Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Just a Few Words


What kind of stuff do you keep? For me, it's anything handwritten. I've been going through a jam-packed closet and what I've realized is that I can't throw away cards, notes or letters from our children, grandchildren or other relatives and friends.

My mother was the same way. She passed away some years ago and I still have boxes of letters and notes she saved from friends and relatives. Maybe it's difficult for me to throw these away because I'm touched whenever someone cares enough to handwrite a note or letter and send it through "snail" mail.

This doesn't happen nearly as often as it did years ago. Cards and letters have been replaced with text messages and email. Ironically, the other day on Facebook someone lamented the passing of cursive handwriting. In fact, there is a debate about whether children even need to learn how to write in cursive. Someone wondered whether future generations will even be able to read historical documents. Yet, the written word holds the key to powerful knowledge passed down from past generations.

Not long ago, Jim and I went to hear Kate DiCamillo, an award-winning author of children's books. She spoke of how words open windows to invisible worlds hidden right here, inside the world we know. She said it is through stories we are connected to other people and times.

I felt this connection one afternoon in a library in New Harmony, Indiana, many years ago. This library had a vault full of letters written by people in the 1800s. As a teacher, I had access to those letters.

The year 1865 opened a trove of letters from a Civil War captain to his wife and family. After reading the letters back and forth between the Captain and his family, I felt I knew who they were. The last letter in this file came from the Captain's commanding officer with the sad news that this husband and father had been killed by a sniper. For a few moments, I imagined the pain this family felt when they opened this letter.

The thing about the written word is that it captures not only the mind, but the heart of the writer. That's what makes Scripture not only fascinating, but powerful. In book after book, we get a glimpse into the heart and mind of God. And what we find is a message of overwhelming love from the beginning with God longing for Adam's company in Eden to the death and resurrection of Christ.

The world seems to pay less and less attention to the Bible, a collection of letters from the Creator of the universe. Without a grasp of Scripture, how can we ever begin to comprehend and respond to the depth of God's love for us?

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.