Writing Letters

April 7th, 2021

“Cast your bread on the waters: for you shall find it after many days.” – Ecclesiastes 11:1

“Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle
(Message in a bottle)”

from the song Message in a Bottle by the Police

I wrote a letter to Father Steve Kelly two days ago. It was an old school snail mail letter. Father Kelly is currently languishing in a federal prison in Seattle, Washington. He got involved in some serious civil disobedience at a Navy nuclear submarine base in Georgia three years ago. He’s been in the slammer ever since then. Father Kelly is due to go before a judge on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021. He may get released after his court appearance. He may never get my letter.

So, why bother to write it?

Good question.

I don’t know the man. I have never met him. I probably never will. We exchanged a few postcards while he was in a Georgia jail, but that has been our only connection.

I wrote the letter because I know how it is to be alone. A man in prison is terribly alone.

I have often written to people in jail or prison. This includes a family member. I have also written to people in rehab clinics, military boot camps, nursing homes, and hospices. Some of these folks were people close to me. Some were strangers. All of them were desperately lonely, and possibly forgotten by the rest of the world.

It is a bitch to be forgotten.

We live in an age of instant communication. Most of us can contact nearly anybody anywhere with a click. Some people can’t do that. They are isolated. They can’t call or use the Internet. They feel abandoned, because they are.

Writing a letter, a paper letter, requires a bit of effort. However, a handwritten letter or card means more than an email or a text. It is easy to delete an email or a post. A letter is harder to ignore. It begs to be read, maybe more than once. A letter is a tangible thing. It has soul.

Years ago, after my mother died, I wrote a letter every week to my father. He never wrote back, not once. I thought that it was such a waste. Then, when we had a phone conversation, my dad told me how much he looked forward to my letters. Each letter gave him a reason to get up and look into his mail box. They gave him hope.

Writing a letter is an act of faith. I never know who will read my letters, if anyone at all. They may mean nothing to the recipient, or they might mean everything.

So, I write.

One thought on “Writing Letters”

  1. Well done Frank. You have inspired me. I am back at Voces on Monday evenings with Heidi. There are about 10 people studying with us at the moment and I think there is a waiting list. We hope to move into the new building soon where there will be more room. I think that I may do just one day a week. Hopefully we will see each other soon. Kiss baby Asher for me. He is beautiful. Mary Pat

    Sent from my iPhone



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