It happens every single time. My heart begins to beat faster; my eyes open wide; my mouth smiles from ear to ear; butterflies dance inside my stomach. Even though I know they are coming, I react the same way each and every time.
Ad Seg (the Hole) is a very lonely place. The days drag without enough activity to fill them. The predictable daily cycle gets old quick. The boredom is replaced by anxiety. Stimulating the mind helps kick the dark thoughts out.
If one is fortunate, he has a cell mate in the Hole; this helps in many ways. But the best mind – and heart – stimulus is to receive a letter from a friend or family member. A single letter can melt away loneliness, anxious thoughts, or unhealthy thoughts that may have been knocking at the mind’s door. Give an inmate a letter and watch him turn to Jell-O.
I am beyond blessed by the amount of mail I receive. Mail from all over the United States and Canada finds me in my cell and showers me with love. Then there are those who write me every single day, and although I hear from them daily, I still get butterflies of joy and excitement each time I see their letters.
When mail is being distributed, I sit in anticipation on my bunk. I know they will stop at my door. My cell is right in front of the stairs, so I see everyone who comes up to the third tier; and when I see the officer walking up with a handful of letters, my emotions surge. My body gets a little wonky.
An overwhelming joy, almost like being in love, begins to bubble up inside of me. My heart beats a little faster. My eyes open a little wider. Even if I tried to contain my smile, I couldn’t. My plump lips and wide mouth expand surreally. My insides dance. “Tickle Me Elmo” has nothing on me when I hear the mail coming.
The second the letters begin to flood into the cell via the gap on the side of the door, my inner little kid jumps up and down like a wind-up toy. No matter how slowly the day has dragged until then, each letter fixes it. To say I’m blessed to receive so much love is simply an understatement.
I sometimes wonder why anyone would love me so much. I am not oblivious to the fact that sending out a letter these days takes more effort than other forms of communication. Today’s technology has made real letters nearly obsolete. Email, texts, Whatsapp, and other means of communication have replaced an envelope, with a stamp and a letter inside. Some call postal-sent letters “Snail Mail.”
So it doesn’t escape me that it takes great effort to send me “Snail Mail.” Yet each day I get the pure joy of opening a letter, and I’m drenched in unconditional love. Love that is not ashamed of my chains. Love that stops, remembers, and reaches out (or actually, reaches in) to touch me. Love that speaks loud and clear.
No matter how many times I’ve tried to solve this puzzle – this puzzle of love – I can’t do it. But I’m not complaining. Nope, not at all. I just know I’m blessed beyond words. It’s because of you that I have escaped the jaws of the Hole’s dark traps.
Maybe you are reading this and didn’t realize how impactful a simple letter can be. Maybe you have been thinking of writing a letter to someone but haven’t made the time. Or maybe you have wanted to visit someone but life interferes. I pray you would consider writing a letter or visiting someone you know who might need a little love.
I’m not suggesting this because I thought of it. It’s in the Bible. Jesus, in Matthew 25:35-40 said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
So if God has placed it in your heart to reach out to someone – and no, I’m not talking about me – it’s because Jesus is looking for you to obey Him. By loving the least, you are loving Him. How beautiful is that??
So go ahead. Jesus wants you to send that letter; visit that friend; clothe him; feed him.
The impact is so much greater than the effort you put in.
Trust me, I know.
…….loving Snail Mail…….
Adrian G. Torres