& The Art of a Handwritten Note
Photography by Sallie Hart Williams
I have enjoyed capturing moments on film since a black and white photography class I took in high school and I continue to look at the world through a lens. Hydrangeas change from bold pinks to purples to classic blues based on the soil. Sunflowers are an anchor in a garden the way they bend to the sun, especially when planted in long skinny rows along the Biltmore Estate fields. Trees and forests offer so many universal lessons for life. Collecting leaves in the fall and observing the vivid burst of color moving across the blue ridge mountains in the fall is enough to trigger timeless childhood memories. Evergreens and berries provide the comfort of nature during the holidays. The stillness of a gentle snowfall or the intimacy of the rain on a tin roof remind us of the cycle of life through the ever-changing seasons.
I grew up appreciating snail mail and designing my own cards for graduations, birthdays and invitations for celebrations. My mother always joked that Hallmark was going to hire me one day. Maybe it was because she sent more birthday cards than anyone I’ve ever known. She would take us to the Hallmark store in the mall on a regular basis to see who could find the funniest cards and have a good laugh. She always knew who had a birthday coming up so she would buy the best ones, with an extra to have on hand. In the days before social media blasted birthday reminders, she would transfer a year of birthdays each January into the new wall calendar we religiously gave her at Christmas. She would send funny cards with handwritten notes, make phone calls or just simply remember the day each of those people were born.
The root of a handwritten note is a practice in gratitude. It is an opportunity to savor a moment, an intentional way to honor and appreciate a person or an action. It feels good to write a thoughtful note by hand, and a kind gesture to receive. While phone calls and emails are excellent ways to stay in touch, sending thoughtful handwritten notes speak to a depth of connection in the relationships we have with each other. Actions speak louder than words. My hope is that these cards, and their personal messages, bring joy and the essence of an embrace.
Originally posted on ABCCM’s website December 14, 2017
Earlier in the year a young man close to my age came into the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) Ferguson Family Crisis Site in Candler seeking assistance with an extremely high electric bill. His name was Elijah, and he had recently received a clean bill of health after a hard battle with cancer. This was great news! The issue that Elijah and his family of seven were facing at this point was that the temporary disability funds and food assistance he was receiving during his treatment was rather abruptly cut as soon as he had been given a healthy diagnosis. Elijah had to spend every cent of his savings to pay his mortgage and other essential bills. As a result, he was unable to afford electricity or food for his family.
This is an unfortunate reality that many of our neighbors experience in times of hardship, but what made this story stand out for me is how easily this story could be my own. Elijah is a father, I am a father. Elijah is a carpenter, I was a carpenter. After speaking with him for a while I realized that we had a lot of other similarities, but one of the big differences between us was that Elijah got sick, and I am (so far) healthy.
The fact that something so serious, and so random, can so quickly put a person or family into a serious crisis situation is one of the reasons why I feel so blessed to be able to work with an organization like ABCCM. As we often do, we were able to help Elijah avoid disconnection of his electric service and provide his family with some food. Of equal importance, we were also able to sit with him, listen to his story, show him that there are people who care and want to help mitigate unfortunate situations, and provide a path forward.
Elijah is now working full time and is taking classes in order to enter the medical field. He feels called to give back to the world by joining those who helped him beat cancer. When he walked out of our office, he expressed his deep gratitude for our service and care.
As we prepare to walk into another year, I feel called to express my deep gratitude to the churches, individuals, and businesses that support ABCCM, to the volunteers and clients who we work with to keep God’s word, and to the Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the opportunity to follow in His example.