In Our Lovely Deseret: 'You who have ... warmed my heart': A letter is an imperishable gift of self
In 1774, John Adams sent a letter from Boston to his wife, Abigail, who was staying at her father’s house in Weymouth. In part, he wrote: “We live my dear Soul, in an Age of Tryal. What will be the Consequence I know not. The Town of Boston, for ought I can see, must suffer Martyrdom; It must expire; And our principle Consolation is, that it dies in a noble Cause. The Cause of Truth, of Virtue, of Liberty and of Humanity: and that it will probably have a glorious Reformation, to greater Wealth, Splendor and Power than ever.”
This entire letter and hundreds of others exist in the manuscript archives of the state of Massachusetts. Nearly 250 years later, we feel the unmistakable energy and spirit, the humility and faith of the man who penned these words.
Fragments of ourselves, that’s what letters are. When we write a letter we experience a renewed sense of self — a refreshed sense of the important reality of the person to whom we are writing the letter. And, more subtly, a restoring of inner balance, and a warm revival of tenderness and beauty within us and all around.
The recent Valentine's Day cames with a tantalizing challenge to give something meaningful to the people we love. Ada Leverson, an American author, wrote: “You don’t know a woman until you have had a letter from her.”
We may feel uncertainty and awkwardness as we attempt to express things we are not accustomed to expressing in an intimate way. And men may believe that it is only women who are meant to express emotions and intimate things. But we are in good company. John Adams to Abigail Smith in 1764 wrote: “Oh my dear Girl, I thank Heaven that another fortnight will restore you to me ... my soul and Body have been thrown into disorder by your Absence ... but you who have always softened and warmed my Heart, shall restore my Benevolence as well as my Health and Tranquility of mind."
Think of the sorrow and inestimable loss if we were forbidden or curtailed from communicating our highest thoughts and deepest feelings to someone we love.
“My heart is always warm in your service,” Lady Mary Montagu wrote to her friend in 1762.
Let our hearts be warm with love’s expression and keep alive — for who knows how long — the precious spark of life and individuality that is uniquely and wonderfully our very own.
Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com.
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