The pen is mightier than the keyboard


     In the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul shares an ongoing struggle with these words: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
     Do you face a similar frustration? Are there things you have been intending to do, that simply don’t get done? I can relate.
     I don’t write enough. Not nearly enough.
    Don’t get me wrong. I do type a lot of messages, notes and emails. Most days I can be found pounding away on my laptop, wearing down the keys, responding to requests, composing stories or sending various notes.
But I do precious little writing. Real writing. Personal writing. Old-school writing.
Hand writing.
    There is a profound difference.
   Comparing an email or text message to a hand-written note is like comparing the burnt-orange tan you get from a spray can to the tan you get while spending a week on Maui.
    Email notes and text messages are a poor substitute for traditional letters. Let’s face it, emails are often trashed before they are even opened. Hand-written letters and cards are saved in a special box or drawer, protected like precious gems.
     But we live in a world that often measures progress by efficiency, productivity and the amount of time saved, whether it involves food preparation, an oil change, knee replacement surgery or how we communicate with one another.
     Hand-written notes and letters are becoming the 21st Century version of the 8-track tape with one important distinction: Everything that followed 8-tracks was an improvement. What form of communication is superior to a hand-written letter? What method is more meaningful?
     Hand-written notes, cards and letters have a special, personal appeal that declares: You were worth the extra time it took to write this message this by hand. It also shows a special intent when someone addresses an envelope, attaches a stamp, and mails a letter or card.
   Have you ever tossed aside a hand-written letter or card before reading it? Not likely.
    It has been my desire, for the past year or so, to write more notes, cards and letters. Recent events have reminded me of the power difference it makes to communicate the old-fashioned way.
     After the death of my sister last month, I was deeply touched by the number of cards and hand-written notes I received. I was also surprised. It is so rare to get personal mail in our instant-messaging culture that I would have never expected so many people to take the time and make the effort.
   Regular mail is out-dated. It is inefficient. It is slow. It is also a powerful way to let people know you care.
   When is the last time you wrote a letter or card and put it in the mail?
   The Apostle Paul occasionally made a special note to point out that he was writing a letter “in his own hand.” Even then, it carried special meaning.
   I am ready to take a break from the computer and smart phone.
   Anyone seen my pen?