I RECEIVED HER LETTER TODAY, her answer. She made a list.
I had asked for her thoughts on why it’s sometimes hard to trust outcomes to God. She sent her list and I’m sending mine and we’re going to compare lists and talk about it. (Actually her list looks almost exactly like mine.)
We used to hash out this type of thing over coffee at Panera at 2 in the afternoon, after I’d been to ESL class and she’d been to see her attorney or worked out or cleaned her apartment. She can’t make it to Panera anymore.
Now she’s behind bars and I’m out here, still writing in the early morning dark, going to ESL and dreaming up dinners I can construct out of what’s in the house so I don’t have to go to the grocery store. (Grocery-store avoidance is a BIG part of my life.)
It’s a slow conversation, going back and forth with letters like this, but what’s the rush? I could email instead, yes, and I do occasionally. But I like the thought of her having a letter in hand. If she’s awake in the middle of the night, alone with her thoughts, she can unfold it and reread the words and be a little less alone. A letter can keep a person company. Plus, she’s a good writer, I’ve noticed, and I think there’s value in her sitting down with paper and thinking things out.
THERE’S a THOMAS MERTON EXHIBIT down at the Frazier Museum. I plan to visit it. Before I go, I’d like to read some of his stuff. All my smart friends have. I chose a collection of his letters, mainly because the Englewood Review referred to his correspondence as “an oft-overlooked facet of his writing.” Letters, the underdog. I think letters are the most direct route to knowing a person, better than anything produced for broad consumption. There you find the authentic voice. I include personal emails in this category, anything written one-to-one, in full acceptance of its incompleteness.
I wonder, with all the envelopes that come here stamped “inmate mail,” if the postman still regards us as good people. I am amused by that thought each time I pull one from my mailbox.