Love Letters to Ketchikan
When was the last time you received a love letter?
No, not a text message. Not a Valentine’s Day card. An actual love letter. Handwritten. Folded. Filled with words of endearment and appreciation for YOU. Can you remember such a time?
Last summer while on vacation, I was waiting in the wee hours of the morning to see the sun peek across the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. The morning was cold and wet, the Alaskan breeze blowing across my blanket-covered lap as I sat in a beach chair on the top deck of a cruise ship, listening to the ocean waves rise and fall.
The sun’s rays started to shimmer across the midnight blue water and I caught myself holding my breath with anticipation. Slowly the sky brightened, the mountains illuminated against the cloud-covered sky. Each moment was more spectacular than the one before and my heart overflowed with one simple word:
I was struck by an insatiable need to share this feeling with someone, right in this moment. I recalled a novel I had read by Hannah Brencher which described her journey in sharing joy with strangers through letters. Love letters. Yes, I know it sounds romantically saccharine and a bit bizarre, to share such sweetness with a stranger, but in that moment, it felt right. I waited for the sun to finish illuminating the sky, then quietly returned to my stateroom, grabbing paper and pen.
I walked around the ship, searching for a place of solitude which was rather easy to find so early in the morning. As soon as my pen touched the paper, the ink flowed from beginning to end, shaping a letter of love for a stranger I had never met.
I wrote two letters, my ultra-fine Sharpie capturing my sentiments with indelible ink. Thoughts of kindness. Hope. Joy. But most importantly, love.
While it may seem a bit odd that a perfect stranger is taking time out of their day to write you a love letter, please know that this no accident. For whatever reason, this letter was meant for YOU. Right here, right now, and with perfect timing.
You see, there is a very important message you need to hear. You, my friend, are loved.
Yes. It’s that simple. You are loved. You are important. Your life has purpose and you are meant to move mountains just by being YOU.
I know this life had hardships. Boy, do I ever. But I’m here to tell you that no amount of rain or darkness can dim the beauty and brightness of your spirit.
You. Are Worthy.
There will be mountains along your journey, and the sheer height and scope will make you want to turn completely around, go another way. This letter is to bind you. Grab you. Pull you to the base and lift you up and over that insurmountable hurdle. There may be sweat. There may be tears. But in the end, you will look back and see it was more than a rolling hill, a piece of a perfect landscape that now showcases part of your spirit.
With love and joy,
A girl from Virginia.”
I’m writing this letter today because you are wonderful. Yes — YOU. For whatever reason, I felt that you needed to be reminded of all the specialness wrapped inside of you. Oh, the beauty that shines from your spirit! If you could only see the depth and breadth of joy and kindness that encompass your every being and how that touches those around you!
Maybe you are looking around, searching for a hidden camera, convinced this is a joke, a ploy, a hidden card trick at a small venue magic show. Rest assured, this letter was meant for you. Your life has such grand purpose, which may seem impossible to believe, but it is true.
You. Are. Special.
And… you are loved.
Yes, I know some days you may not feel worthy or deserving of such enormous proclamations, but life is like that. The waves rise, then crash, then pull back and start again. But even in the midst of that repetition, there will be a ray of light from a sunrise that will change the landscape into a radiant sea of sparkle and everything is transformed into beauty and hope and all things good. You, dear friend, are that light. Now go out and shine!
With love and joy,
A girl from Virginia”
Later that morning, we docked in Ketchikan, Alaska a city that receives more than 160 inches of rainfall a year. True to form, a light drizzle of rain coated the streets as we made our way into town. Suddenly the dark clouds shifted, replaced by the warmth of the sun I had greeted mere hours before.
We walked from shop to shop, learning about the culture of this salmon canning town, and I waited patiently, two folded pieces of paper hidden in the pocket of my rain jacket. Who would receive my letters of love?
I saw a stack of t-shirts in an open bin and felt the nudge to leave one there, hidden in the folds of cotton, so I did.
As we walked deeper into the town, I saw a quaint table and chairs outside of a sandwich shop and knew my second letter belonged there.
We were only in Ketchikan for a few hours, long enough to walk around town, buy a few souvenirs, and sprinkle some love on the other side of the world. I may never know who read my my letters, but I know that my words were meant for them.
And maybe my words are meant for you as well.
You. Are. Loved.
Be blessed, my dear friends, and recommend this story with someone who may also need to feel a little love today!