Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

14 October 2012

Twenty minutes


Letter writing it seems is a dying artform.  Lots of people say, "Oh no!  I don't write letters anymore.  I just send emails."  True at one level.  I can type much faster than I can write with pen and paper these days.  But it isn't true at another level, because how many of us actually correspond with others via email?  I send lots of emails - but they are mostly short, usually on one subject, written with the aim of getting something done.  I think I am keeping up with those who are beyond my immediate vicinity.  But actually, I'm not.  Because I rarely write a letter these days.  I think I have had two bursts of letter writing this year.  And I don't seem to get around to writing emails that would count as correspondence all that often.

This year, with my friends in Kiribati, I have been trying to keep in touch regularly.  Telephone calls haven't really been an option, although there have a been one or two lovely phone conversations.  I have written them two or three letters - and they do get there but it takes about three weeks.  Which is good, really.  But mostly I have been emailing.

Sometimes I hit a busy patch (or so I perceive it to be) and I don't email for a while.  But in recent months I have decided that I'm sure my friends would rather get a short email that not hear from us at all. It's the keeping in touch that counts. 

And so one day, in the midst of a busy patch, I had twenty minutes exactly.  I can't remember what it was that was happening on the otherside of the twenty minutes...time to collect the children from school, time to start preparations for matter.  I had twenty minutes.  Not the sort of twenty minutes that might be useful for a quick job inside utilising one or other packet of cleaning wipes or twenty minutes that could be gainfully employed with a quick stint of weeding the garden.  It was the sort of twenty minutes that would be spent quickly roaming around facebook and google reader.  But instead of taking a wander through the hallowed halls of the internet I opened up an email and started to write. 

As it turns out, you can write quite a lot in twenty minutes.  And so I have continued to do this.  Because as it also turns out, there are quite a lot of twenty minute slots to be found in the week if you look hard enough and want to find them.  If I am tired I write less because I make typing errors along the way.  If I have slept well I write more.  So I grab those twenty minute time slots and instead of frittering them away, I have been using them to write to my friends in Kiribati.  (Or occasionally to someone else...sorry if it wasn't to you.  I do owe a few people a twenty minute email.)  

And a week or two ago I even went above and beyond and used a couple of twenty minute slots to write short letters.  Yes.  Pen and paper. 

Do you have someone whose day would be made by receiving an email or a short letter?  Twenty minutes is surprisingly easy to grab at some stage in the week.  Then it is a bit like an exam.  When the clock says, "Your time starts now," you just have to get busy and start writing.  Have a go.  It will make someone smile and be such an encouragement to them.


Sarah said...

Aww that's lovely, Meredith. :) Twenty minutes well spent, I'm sure.

I've found over the past year that one decent length phone conversation/letter/email every few months is worth it's weight in gold. I guess I've become ok with less frequent contact, although the odd short email just to 'check in' with someone is great too.

Meredith said...

Thanks Sarah.

The older I get the more people there are to keep in contact with - and so contact becomes sparser all round. However I have found that there are "seasons of contact." Someone falls into a particular space of needing to be encouraged at a more frequent rate (following a relocation, major life transition or tragedy for example) and then it is especially good to find those twenty minutes pockets as often as possible for as long as is needed.

And then there are just those random one-offs like writing to authors to thank them for their work. Or politicians. Or someone who has made a positive impact. These can all be done in a solid twenty minutes.

But it definitely ebbs and flows with me. Wish it didn't in some ways but there is only so much time in the week. :-)

Hope you are doing well.