I attended my first scout camp when I was twelve. Most of the days were fun and full. The nights were different. I was so homesick, I can’t even explain it. I would dread the sun going down and then I would spend most of the night crying quietly into my pillow. I realize that is a sad, kind of pathetic, picture. Oh, was I homesick.
On about night three, somewhere around midnight or a little after, I was in my sleeping bag thinking about how horrible it was to be away from my family and crying into my pillow so that the other scouts wouldn’t hear me. If only my parents could be with me! Then I remembered something. I had a note from my mother!
I jumped up, grabbed my flashlight, and dug through me backpack until I found the note, written on a 3×5 card. I read it. Every little word. I read it over and over again, probably twenty times or more. I felt so close to my mother and my sadness and homesickness eased just enough that I finally fell asleep. Want to know what she wrote? Here, take a peek:
To Whom It May Concern:
My son, Brian Mickelson, has my permission to take Dramamine for his carsickness on the way to and from camp.
You many being wondering what was so inspiring about that note. The thing is, my mother’s handwriting is perfect. I mean, it is the most legible handwriting that there is. It is still my favorite handwriting. And, I didn’t know anyone else on earth who had that handwriting. So, just seeing my mother’s handwriting made me feel so close to home. I loved it. It was very important for me to have that note on that night…I can absolutely still picture that 3×5 card.
We ought to write more notes to our children. Notes, letters, Post-Its, texts, Facebook messages, emails… We really ought to write more encouraging things to our children. I’m not sure we do it enough.
Henry B. Eyring, as the president of then-Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), taught one religion course per semester. While teaching a Doctrine and Covenants course, he noted the following moment:
I was teaching from section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that section Emma Smith is told that she should give her time to “writing, and to learning much” (verse 8). About three rows back sat a blonde girl whose brow wrinkled as I urged the class to be diligent in developing writing skills. She raised her hand and said, “That doesn’t seem reasonable to me. All I’ll ever write are letters to my children.” That brought laughter all around the class. Just looking at her I could imagine a full quiver of children around her, and I could even see the letters she would write. Maybe writing powerfully wouldn’t matter to her.
Then a young man stood up near the back. He had said little during the term; I’m not sure he had ever spoken before. He was older than the other students, and he was shy. He asked if he could speak. He told in a quiet voice of having been a soldier in Vietnam. One day, in what he thought would be a lull, he had left his rifle and walked across his fortified compound to mail call. Just as he got a letter in his hand, he heard a bugle blowing and shouts and mortar and rifle fire coming ahead of the swarming enemy. He fought his way back to his rifle, using his hands as weapons. With the men who survived, he drove the enemy out. Then he sat down among the living, and some of the dead, and he opened his letter. It was from his mother. She wrote that she’d had a spiritual experience that assured her that he would live to come home if he were righteous. In my class, the boy said quietly, “That letter was scripture to me. I kept it.” And he sat down.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll write, well, scripture today. Who will be the recipient of your kind and encouraging words? A son or daughter? A grandchild? A friend? In what way can thoughtful, written communication make you an instrument in the hands of the Lord today? What simple thing might the Lord want you to share with them?
PS…Any examples of how someone’s written words to you have been a blessing? Care to share?