Ponderings with Doug – March 18, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

I was waiting in the downtown Post Office in Natchitoches on Tuesday. The employees were at lunch and I knew that I needed to wait for ten minutes or so for their lunch time to conclude. I admit that I enjoyed waiting in that old building. I found a moment to prop against the wall and look around at the glorious space of our downtown Post Office. The public space has texture, aromas and character. The lighting was incandescent and soft. It was quiet! It is funny where you can find sacred space when you look for it.

I began reflecting on my Post Office experiences.

I was in college at a time when you checked your college Post Office box for mail. If you were lucky there was a love letter from your sweetie. If you were really lucky there was a money letter from your parents in addition to that letter from your sweetie. I remember cards from church members who would let me know they were praying for me. I always checked for sweetie mail at the campus Post Office after the Young and the Restless was over. I don’t know how it started, but where I went to school we didn’t schedule classes at eleven so we could watch the Young and the Restless in the Student Union. I think we really wanted to hang out with the girls rather than being interested in a soup opera. Though it was scandalous daytime television in the 1970’s! Are Victor and Nikki still characters on this show forty years later? Those soap operas never have resolutions to anything. Old Post Offices certainly do cause a wide range of thoughts and memories.

Do you remember watching football games in the 70’s and 80’s? Each Saturday the cameras would find the kid or kids holding the sign, “Hi Mom. Send money.” That is how we communicated back in the day! If you needed money, you prayed that mom was watching the game so she would send you money. I don’t think I have seen a “send money” sign in years. I suppose that now kids post to Facebook or Instagram if they need money. With electronic banking, perhaps the children can sweep the parents account to get what they need. The Post Office was once the place where love letters and money letters were delivered.

Standing in the Post Office, I was reminded that life has changed. Everything is quick and digital. Things for which we once waited are now delivered at the speed of light to an Inbox on a computer or phone. There are so many avenues of communication and building relationships. I wonder if our relationships, especially those that are digital, are as satisfying as analog relationships. Is an email love note the same as a love note delivered by the Post Office? Do college kids even have Post Office boxes assigned for their college experience?

The Post Office window opened as lunch hour was over. I enjoyed my ten minutes of standing around looking at the stuff in the Post Office and thinking. I was encouraged that my picture was not on the wall!

I transacted my business with Post Office folks.