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Postcards - Journey to a Thin Place

Are there mementos you treasure for the memories they evoke? Letters, maybe? Or postcards?

“I woke up this morning to the trumpeting of elephants outside my window.”

These are the words written on a postcard sent to me by my cousin Priscilla when I was nine years old.

There were those in the family who felt sorry for Priscilla because she never married. Not me. She was my role model. She was strong, resourceful and independent. I watched her rewire a lamp, lift the hood of the car to change the oil, scan the skies for an indigo bunting when she heard its song through an open window. She had a career and traveled the world. And she thought enough to share her enthusiasms with a nine-year-old girl. Receiving that postcard was formative in my life for what it symbolized.

I love postcards: both sending and receiving. For me, sending a postcard is kind of like putting a message in a bottle and dropping it in the ocean. The magic is in the sending. But receiving a postcard can hold magic, too.

I’ve saved many of the postcards people have sent me over the years. Lots of them are bookmarks, tucked in books with age-yellowed pages. Discovering them takes me back to when I was reading Middlemarch or A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. They remind me of family and friends who took the time to share their joy with me. And of the person I was when I received them.

Recently I came across a postcard from our friend Mary, sent to my husband and me from Florence when Mary visited there for the first time. She was on a retreat organized by an Episcopal priest who lived in Firenze – home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. We were so happy for her joy since her trip came after a painful separation and divorce. She writes:

“How many times I have thought of you two and how much you would love being here. Beautiful paintings, delicious food, cool breezes, Evening Prayer, Eucharist in the garden.”

Her words transported me. Made me feel I was there with her. I’ve saved other postcards, but this one seems suffused with light.

Mary died on the winter solstice. I keep waiting for another postcard.

Luke 2:19

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

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