” … letters are your father’s way of keeping a diary – thinking about things and trying to make sense of them through the written word.”

Today’s blog is for those who read what appears here.

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These are the words of noted psychiatrist Robert Coles’ mother, words she offered when, as a youngster, he asked why it was that his Dad spent time writing to his family and friends as he did.

Yes, writing helps the author as much as it might help the reader.  Those who write clearly, tend to think clearly – and to think clearly is to put to task the desire to understand.  But it is much, much more.  It is to reach out by opening yourself.  It is the cup of self shared with others.  It is, even when one is somewhat contentious, an act of contact, with intimacy, and a desire to bridge distance and come to a meeting, a give and take, a table of sorts, a shared meal in some figurative way.

In writing you offer to others that you might know as a way that they too might be know -and so come to share themselves, with their loved ones, strangers, maybe you as well.

We have plenty of surface exchanges in this life, and plenty of abruptness and outright hostility – and way too much ideological dribble and self-assertive, utterly uninformed advocacy always merely bald self-interest intended to placate the speaker and drum the listener into exhausted “agreement.”

But writing about things that matter.  Writing in a way to think out loud, to summon something of truth from what is uncertain, or invisible but present – that is a far different offering.  When you write that way, the reader is always in your mind.  It is like preparing a meal for a guest, sometimes an exotic meal – sometimes a simple meal.

This kind of writing explores, looks at meaning, existence, the soul, what cannot to seem but is surely felt.  This kind of writing connects.  At its best, it grows self and others.  It wakes us up.  Makes us think.  Hopes that we dream.  And laugh. And change in a favorable way.

I used to be involved in politics and public policy and practice law.  In this I learned that changing hearts was the task for each life well applied to its own time.  So on to theology.  On to faith.  On to writing, and speaking about things that seem to matter to the human person, those living now who wrestle with what is before us and what is always in play: trying to figure out what a life is and how we are best to receive it in all its ragged edges and over-riding moral limits.

Between our birth and death we may touch understanding, As a moth touches a window with its wing.

Christopher Fry

Shalom.

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