I received a letter this week from a dear friend and in it she included an essay titled A Last Lecture: On Essays and Letters by James V. Schall S.J. It’s a great little essay and makes you think, especially if you enjoy writing letters to friends and family. Here is one part of it:
“We live in a world, of course, increasingly ruled by e-mail, instant communication, video, satellites, wireless phones. We have at our fingertips, increasingly, everything ever written, ever sung, ever spoken, ever acted. We begin to wonder: Is it all equally important? Will we find wisdom amidst the endless stream of information? In a way, I think letters and essays may save us simply because they do preserve, in the immediacy of their address and style, the particularity of things, without the knowledge of which there is no wisdom.”
Awhile back I wrote about my thoughts on using the internet well and there is something in this essay that resonates with me on the same chord. Something of the importance of personal communication, in the written form, and the honest telling and sharing of experience. I love finding gems like this, though most of the time it is better said that they find me.
This past weekend my sister-in-law and I spent the weekend outdoors. I love my sister-in-law dearly. Our winter conversations are always longing for the sweet, short summer months of North Dakota; we vent-text to each other, sometimes regularly on our lunch breaks (you know, the kind of text that actually feels like you had a conversation with someone); and we share in wanderlust and all things unlimited. We both have gone through the whole dating – engagement – wedding process similarly timed, as well as the house-buying process. This past weekend was our first kayaking – fishing girls trip, and a new tradition to keep!
Cooking over the fire, dreaming about places to go and why wanderlust, drinking french press morning coffee, and finding rivers to fish filled our weekend. At one point my sister-in-law remarked, “It’s nice to actually have time to just sit back and read.” Between the kayaking and finding streams and fishing, we made sure to have time to just lay out in the sun, enjoy the outdoors, relax, read. Rejuvenate. It was my first time actually fishing out my kayak. We paddled our way to the remote, untouched end of the lake where no one else was, and let the waves wash us into the bordering shore line and fallen trees. We hardly had to cast and we nailed the sunnies. We caught fish after fish and both felt like mighty successful fisherman. We talked about marriage, and our plans for the rest of the summer into the fall, and any projects we can’t get off our minds.
After a weekend outdoors, I made the two-hour drive home – smelling of smoke, body tired in the good way, mind not racing. There is something about spending time outdoors, slowing down, letting adventures be the everyday things and where you are now, having good conversations that are also filled with good silence, using your body to do things. Something that is good for the soul. So thankful for weekend adventures you can drive to, sisters-in-law with similar interests and spirit, and making time to be away. So thankful to come home to a husband who has reorganized kitchen cupboards and vacuumed and planned supper while baking brownies. Goodness all around.