The gravel lane meandering to our country mailbox seemed like such an adventurous trail. Funny how Mom's stride was never quite long enough to catch my bare little bronzed feet padding down the lane. Two dark braids streamed behind me on the breeze of little-girl laughter. Fingers creased with dried clay from mud pie creations clasped tightly to family letters.
Before I could read or write my mom would dot the formation of each word I spoke. In turn, I carefully traced over each one. After lunch dishes were washed in bubbles nearly up to my shoulders and dotted onto my chin, I would bounce down from my perch of a kitchen chair, rushing for the door. What a treasure to run to that old box and find a letter returned in kind!
The same bare feet cross the lawn to the mailbox this summer, but generally with a bit less anticipation... until recently. One Georgia afternoon, quiet from the blazing summer sun, I drew out the stack of magazines, bills and advertisements. A hand-addressed, white envelope caught my eye. On the outside were the words, "Didn't forget- just ran out for a bit. Hug!"
The return address was that of a dear new friend. I was uncertain what her words meant. I eased the flap open and saw a glimpse of red... and I knew. My heart jumped. With smiling, tear-filled eyes I drew out a red, construction-paper heart. She remembered.
Late one night two friends click-clacked heart words to one another. Life's path seemed a little rocky... the trail markers obscure. In these night moments we would laugh and cry and bare tender souls. This particular night she said, "How is your heart?". "When I think of you, I see a heart." As the laughter from our giddy girl-talk grew quiet and two tired moms finally bid good night, there came a sentiment I will never forget. Glowing in the still darkness were the words, "Sending you a big, red, construction-paper heart."
A simple, pure expression of affection between sister friends was now delivered into my hands. I traced the edge with my fingertips and smiled with my heart.
No matter how many times we make the journey to the mailbox, a handwritten envelope bearing a friend's address is always treasured. And this red construction-paper heart? It is tenderly tucked in my Bible at the 61st chapter of Isaiah... another heart thing shared in those whispers between souls.
If your heart is a little lost, a little torn, a little lonely today... know that a prayer goes out to you, my friend... that you might know peace... the peace of His strength and all-knowing grace... your name handwritten on the envelope by a Father who knows you completely.
Stephanie Marie? Watch your mailbox, dear one.
From my big red construction paper heart,
"And provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3