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Letters in the basement


In conversation with a loved one, a comment from a letter I’d written came up. It transpired that, in order to read the letter again to refresh our memories, a trip to the basement was needed.

I was crestfallen. Letters I’d written carefully, with effort choosing thoughts and language to convey life and my feelings over distance had been consigned to storage. Not ancient letters from my youth; these were relatively recent.

So much for being a treasured part of this person’s life, I thought. Words I had painstakingly chosen, ideas I’d struggled to share, stacked away with books no longer read and items no longer of use or relevance. It really hurt.

What caused more pain was the thought that eclipsed my own momentary disappointment.

I do this to you, my Abba, almost daily. And how it must hurt!

Your beautiful love letters written for each of us lie, unopened at times, gathering dust. Your Holy Word, carefully chosen to bless, lift, empower, and strengthen us, sits like an old magazine waiting to be noticed. Or, worse, is nowhere to be found, lost in the detritus of life.

How much of your Word have I failed to notice because, having read it once, I think it has no relevance for me?

How many of your letters are consigned to the basement of my life like old documents, stored to await a blitz of uncluttering? Will I dispose of your painstaking letters, written over centuries and carefully selected to endure through the ages, like an old bill or receipt for an appliance I no longer own?

“It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Your words give life, sustain life, provide strength in our weakness, power in our struggles, love in our loneliness.

“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account” (Heb. 4:12-13).

Living and effective! Your word breathes new life, cures, encourages, empowers. What an edge your Word has, sharper than the finest Damascus steel, to penetrate the fine fabric the mere breath that exists between soul and spirit between the breath in our bodies and your Breath of Life in us.

And I consign your Word, your love, to the basement of my life, to the detritus and clutter and unused and useless things, when your love, your carefully chosen Word of Life, should be given a place of honor and prominence in my daily life.

I don’t mean a fancy Bible decorating the coffee table.

What I need, what I crave, what sustains and gives life and light and hope, is your Word, living and effective in me. What I need is to read, consume, digest, and make your love letters part of my everyday living and breathing, that they become part of me, so intertwined and interwoven that your Word, sharp and fine as it is, cannot separate me from you.

My letters to loved ones can be committed to basements or crumble to dust.

But let me never leave your Word unread. May I never leave such life-giving letters to waste in a forgotten corner of my life.

You are the Word, yours the love letters that court minds, hearts, and souls since before time, throughout and across time, from everlasting to everlasting. Hide me in it and it in me, Abba. This I pray in the name of your Son, the living embodiment of your Word. Amen.

“In the beginning was the Word,

And the Word was with God,

And the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Masses at St. Ann Catholic Church are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. Visit www.stannslv.org for more information. Listen to a homily from one of the weekend Masses, now available on the parish website. Click on “News” on the home page.

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