Thursday, January 24, 2013

Epistolary Debt...Oh, what should one do?

"A reply should promptly follow the receipt of a letter, it cannot be civilly delayed for any great length of time. "  Youth's Educator For Home and Society --1896

"Politeness is as much concerned in answering letters within a reasonable time, as it is in returning a bow, immediately."~Lord Chesterfield

To acknowledge the receipt of letters is always proper, to remove doubts of their miscarriage."  ~George Washington

"Then there's the joy of getting your desk clean, and knowing that all your letters are answered, and you can see the wood on it again."~Lady Bird Johnson

I keep a small wicker basket for all incoming letters that need a reply on my desk.  That little basket has recently been crammed, pitifully, with correspondence which languishes without a response.  Day after day, I survey this dear little desk and I see the basket...THAT basket! Oh, what to do??  Oh yes, I have plenty of excuses...the holidays were so entire household was sick (including me!) for nearly a month...But  these excuses just seem to  ring hollow.  I suppose that most avid letter-writers find themselves in this predicament at one time or another so maybe you can relate.  But back  to the question of  what can one do when they find themselves in this unfortunate situation?  I am reminded of Elisabeth Elliot's old radio broadcast and she would often quote  "...just do the next thing!"  She applied this to many situations.  I think this ultra simple but yet profound  advice could be helpful here.  Let's just do the next thing...sit down and write!   We might not be able to knock it all out in one sitting, but like eating an elephant, we can do it one bite at a time.


  1. Oh my gosh I have this problem too I have so many friends now I want to be fair and true too all of them mine box is a full size postal box they let me borrow and it keeps getting bigger and fuller, and where to start!!

  2. This is a common affliction. I currently have a small stack that I have to reply to. The challenge is often finding the special thing that I want to say. I often wait for that inspired moment but it seems that it only happens "in the doing" so I think Elisabeth Elliott is right. No more excuses...thanks for the tip!

    1. Indeed! We all need this encouragement, and not just at one point in time, but again and again!