Monday, February 13, 2012

Alas, they say.
The love letter is no more. 
Killed by twitter, email and texts.

Hiccups with my iphone have meant I've not been able to send or receive texts all weekend. Not a huge drama, but it will be if the phone's not working properly soon. And while its most valuable function to me is that of communicating with my kids, it's also how I send quick love notes to my Beloved. And how he replies.

Don't worry. I won't share any of them here. But I have missed the three word messages which flash on the screen - and this from the man who works from home and is only one staircase away most days.

So why am I pondering romantic sweet nothings and love letters? Probably because tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Like most Aussies, I'm not so tightly bound to its traditions but it is a day I hold dear. For it is that blessed day I received my first love note, and went from 'single' to 'taken.' (And I might add, still taken - by the same man.)

23 years later, and many love notes have passed between us, but fewer and fewer of the hand written variety. Now we rely on electonic means, and the old letters are as dated as my puff sleeved wedding dress.

So if we're writing digital love notes now, what will be left for us to sift through when we're old and longing to revisit the past? Where will our love letters from today be then?

And what about the rest of you? Are all suitors laying down the pen in favour of hasty emoticons? Is 'I heart U' the best we can do now?

Biographers lament the scarcity of love letters. While journals and diaries abound, written with posterity in mind, the rare and raw emotion of the private love letter allows a secret glimpse into the yearning of only one soul to another. Think Solomon. Think of the one who pursued you. And wooed you. This is the power of words. This is how God captures our heart too.

I was surprised to discover most love letters preserved by historians, especially those written 100 years ago or more, are written by men. Whether it was 'presumptuous' for a lady to declare her love this way, or the notion that women are better at the 'keeping' of treasures, one thing remains. Paper love letters are dwindling in number and our generation may not have much to add to the stack. Even if its your private stack.

Hand written, often stained with tears or perfumed, love letters hold more than sentiment. They cradle an apology with sincerest remorse. Whisper the longing to see one much loved, yet so far away. Declare one is more than smitten, decades into a relationship.

They capture the heartbeat of the writer and reveal a vulnerability only the recipient can treasure for what it's worth. They are poems. Works of art. They are love messages intended for keeping, and if you're like me your letters may be tied with a velvet ribbon or locked in a box where only you can find them.

While there were only 10 words in my first love letter, I know each one by heart. I memorised them the day they arrived. And although I don't need that faded paper to remember how it tipped my world, I would never dream of throwing it away.

So, where do you keep your love letters?
Are they hidden or not yet written?