At one or another point in our life we were loved enough that someone sent us a love letter or two, or more. At the time, those words touched us, moved our heart, and most likely changed our lives forever.
We all need love. We seek it in the movies we watch, the books we read, the tears that flow unexpectedly at weddings. Most potently, we were at one time all hungry for the expression of love penned by our ardent lover. Re-reading those precious notes years later, we are still moved, still remember the fresh scent of love it bathed us within.
A short time ago, Syd, a long time friend, facing the third anniversary of losing her husband in Afghanistan, asked permission to send me a copy of a letter he wrote to her about a week before he died. The letter had given her comfort, joy, and a continued presence of love — she will need it as she raises her two little ones alone.
Syd wanted to share the beautiful words with me because it made her feel less alone, less isolated, more understood, at a precarious time in her life when she needed to feel all those things.
When her forwarded letter arrived in my inbox, I was afraid to open it, feared seeing too much intimacy of a friend, feared the emotions that may well up inside of me. Unlike the fantasy of a movie, this was real love, lived out in real time, between two very real people I had grown to love. So for several hours, it just sat there in my email, unopened, asking me “when?, when”? I finally had to click “open.”
With that click I was pulled inside another life, saw a hidden part of my special friend’s life, felt the tender passion pass between those for whom miles were an agonizing torture. Then, halfway through the long message, unable to turn my misted eyes away, trying not to read too fast lest I miss something, magic happened. Magic.
In the words flowing across my mind I saw my own love, felt it deeply, felt it surge and grow into the form it was so many years ago. Magic. The words on the page transported me into my own former world. It was not a remembering as much as it was an emotional reliving of the space I had floated within when I was very far away from here, anxiously counting days until I could come back to be with him again.
This love letter was shared by a friend needing someone to understand what she once had, what she had lost, and to hold her in her moment of deep pain. As I held her tightly in my outstretched heart, I was also transfixed by the love I too was fortunate to have in my own life starting not so many years ago — expressions of love that arrived by mail every day for a year — a love that unfolded with each lovingly torn open envelope — a love that continues to unfold to this day.
Many years ago, I remember the wonder of love in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love letters in Sonnets from the Portuguese. They were so beautiful. So moving. And while it made me long for words like those to be written about me, I marveled that something so private would be published and made so public. I was young then, and it would be years before I received my own love letters. But Syd, and Elizabeth and the letters I had received, all of a sudden added together, and made me think. And I knew why Ms Browning published them. It wasn’t about her, it was about us, her readers. To give to us the gift of a loving mirror that she held up for us to feel their own private loves.
As I sit here remembering the love letter that Syd needed to share with me, and feeling the gentle power of the words of love flowing over me from my own love-letter-past, I would like to propose to you, dear readers, an experiment by creating a place on my blog to share your love letters (and a few of mine, too).
What I have learned is that love is something we all need more of. And we DO need to share it — to open our old envelopes, and invite others inside them, that they too may be transported to that place of their own remembered-love. To feel the transformation of soul that flows gently, magically by sharing written words of private love.
With this experiment, with each of us opening a window into our private lives and inviting us to read a love letter that moved us, I believe we will share a new sense of connectedness, with all of us floating within an expanding ocean of love. If it is like what I experienced with Syd, what I marveled at with Elizabeth, it too will be magic.
Please share a love letter from your past (read the guide for it here), and every Friday I will post them here. In this way we will spark a tidal wave of love, manifesting out here in our daily world, what we have privately held in tucked-away envelopes and never deleted emails. Do we not all need that? Would that not be a grand experiment of love?
I will start by sharing a letter from my past.
Will you take part in this experiment and share one with me, with us today?