The act is incarnational.
Chief Justice John Roberts gave the commencement address to his son’s ninth grade graduation. Many excellent lines could be culled from his remarks (video here). I even used some of his comments to open and close my preaching on “privilege” from Deuteronomy 10 (audio here).
Justice Roberts’ last piece of advice is memorable:
Once a week you should write a note to someone. Not an email, a note on a piece of paper. It will take you 10 minutes. Talk to an adult, let them tell you what a stamp is and put it on the envelope. I will help you. I will dictate to you the first note you should send. It should say, “Dear _____” (fill in the blank of a teacher here at your school) “. . . Thank you for teaching me . . .” It will mean a great deal to people who dedicate their lives to teaching.
During my preaching I mentioned it would be good to watch Roberts’ short commencement address. I did not mention the quote above. A few days after my sermon I received a note in the mail noted here in this picture.
It was obvious my friend had taken my advice to listen to the full speech. He then immediately practiced what he had heard.
I have read the note six times. I suspect I will read it a few more.
I mention “respect” because by handwriting a note to someone you are thanking them for not just what they have done but who they are. The incarnational emphasis of a physical note expresses our deepest longing from the weightiest of teaching: God has met humans in flesh through the person and work of Jesus.
A handwritten note is a vestige, a reminder of who we are, how we have been made. We have been made to be in relationship with each other AND The One who has made us.
My son Tyler is one of the few people I know who consistently, almost daily, sends letters to people. His nephews (Ethan & Luke), for instance, tell me that they save every mailing. Their faces light up just seeing an envelope in the mailbox from Tyler. Sometimes it is the adornments of comics or pictures on the envelope which are attractive. But always, always it is the words on paper that are read again and again.
Tyler also uses a manual typewriter to pen his words. Here is a sample of his writing through poetry sent to his mom and I which is hanging above my keyboard as I type.
We save his letters too.
Justice Roberts ended his comments this way
Send one note a week over a forty week school year. Forty people will feel a little more special because you did and they will think you are very special because of what you did. Now what else is going to carry that kind of dividend during your time at school?
Follow the example of Justice Roberts, a friend who heard my sermon, and my son Tyler.
Write a handwritten note to someone this week. The act is inspirational. The act is incarnational.