September has been the fullest month, with our home totally changed now that Thomas is away. Now, the advent of this undertaking, the sending of our boy off to school, that is, is far more happy and fruitful than it could be otherwise, and lest we seem ungrateful for God’s many gifts and graces, we cannot fail to acknowledge how much we are blessed, far more than we could ever have foreseen. Our homeschool year is more peaceful and joyful than ever, and we had some late surprises from the Summer garden after a rough and sordid season - these kinds of things have kept our cup of wonder filled to overflowing. We have employment, shelter, provision enough, a tightly-knit family life and a fervent faith. Our Lady has never failed us in our prayers to her, and our oldest son - though absent from our daily affairs and indeed it is with heartache we miss his face and smile and singing voice, as well as his handiness in physical tasks - is away on the educational adventure of a lifetime, so far as we can tell, in answer to many prayers.
Which brings us to the art of written correspondence, an art not at all foreign to us but one that has taken a delightful and more enlivened turn these last weeks. Unmediated conversation (real, live, and face to face) is ideal, praying together is sanctifying, reciting poetry is beautiful, singing songs together is sublime, but in the alternative, to write a letter is not a bad way to talk to someone you love. Indeed it may be superior to most ways. We packed into Thomas’s things just before he left a good supply of distinctive stationary, envelopes, and stamps, with the hope it would make it all the more easy for him to write if he ever got the chance (we were not sure if he would ever have the time). Letters with hand-drawn pictures and snippets of tales or songs or poetry from home were mailed off quickly to him after his departure (it is a bittersweet moment to write to your son the first time he is really away, as it was hearing his voice on the phone the first time he called from school, a week in). We have kept up weekly letters off to him - who doesn’t love getting a handwritten note? - filling him in on the mundane (but not uninteresting) details of life at home: the First Sunday gathering without him, the terrified groundhog our dog had cornered in the backyard, our first-prize-at-the-county-fair watermelon, the new family van, our little homeschool successes. And of course we’ve included all our queries over his new life at Greg’s.
There is something wonderful, an inspired thing, that happens between the idea in the mind and the commitment of it upon the page with pencil or pen, an enjoyable and we think vital piece of living that should never be eschewed. True, we can rapidly transfer thoughts into words by quickly pressing keys (this brings a memory though of the ancient way of doing such a thing - never will I forget the beautiful punching, whir and ring of the typewriter while my mother typed away all those years). But it isn’t the same; it isn’t the same. We know it isn’t the same, and yet we insist upon it, almost wholly to the detriment of our children’s tender imaginations and innocent minds. In addition, it is not simply quaint to write in cursive; the very act of writing in script is virtuously formative, for then in patient, careful consideration is the soul transfixed to make a loving gift of itself to another.
So, lo! How happy the day when my daughter walked down to the mailbox to find that singularly stripe-edged envelope with her name written nicely in cursive upon it, in the hand of her loving brother. It brought our hearts such a happiness just to see it, and that was even before we read the contents! A full page and a half, with three post-scripts he sent to her, and that will keep us content for a good while; good boy! Our correspondence will fill in great part the interstices between holidays and windows of time with him at home, and we are thankful for this simple, pleasurable, memorable, and engaging way of getting along.
May the Word Incarnate keep us in His gaze, and may His loving Mother continue to pour graces upon our humble efforts!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.