“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” Phyllis Theroux
This week, those of us at The River have the honor of hosting the Love Letter Workshop with our guest speaker Audrey Gidman. This virtual event is open to the public and we encourage our readers, contributors, and supporters in all forms to attend. You can RSVP for this event with us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Though the ongoing pandemic calls for continued social distancing, we are thankful that through virtual events such as this one we are able to share, learn, and convene with one another. I have had the privilege of attending Audrey’s love letter events in the past. When she first started writing letters, I thought it was a phase, an intriguing quirk, a hobby added on to the never-ending list of projects and passions that my friend enjoyed. Then she kept writing letters and they went deeper, developed their own language and energy. Four years ago she was bursting with this craft and letters were gifts, moments of earnest encouragement, tiny poems sailing out into the night. She pressed prayer and purpose and peace into these vessels and touched the hearts of friends and family, colleagues and strangers. Such a small thing, a seemingly simple thing, possessed an unknown power: a spark of hope. From that project others have emerged, including the unique workshops that she runs around love letter activism.
It’s not a stretch to say that there is something radical about the notion. Traditionally, we tend to think of love letters as romantic gestures, a bygone practice. However, Audrey has envisioned a practice in which the constraints of love (and perhaps even letters) as we conceive of it are challenged, stretched, undone. Though she creates an atmosphere of inclusion, safety, vulnerability and space-holding, there are often moments of discomfort, of old truths being dusted off and rattled up within. I have yet to make it through without crying; I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In closing, as you perhaps consider attending this event or finding ways to support this artist and her work, I’ll share with you an excerpt from a letter I wrote to myself on April 28, 2018 at a Love Letter Workshop in the weeks following the unexpected death of a close friend.
You deserve to create — to turn so many heavy things into portable moments, shareable, living, breathing energy that has healing power. You know at your core that this is what so much of what your life has been about already. Pain and healing. Destruction and reimagining. Uncovering and bringing to the light. When did it become less of a gift and more of a heartbreak? You kept trying to pour out from an ever-empty vessel and shorted yourself on the moments of refill. Joy was traded for utility. Self-care for self-abuse. Celebration for survival.
I give you permission to leave all of that behind today. I forgive you for the ways in which you’ve failed to get to know yourself, but I can’t in good conscience allow you to live any longer in a broken place. You know you want more — reach out and grab it.
Thanks for reading. We hope you’ll join us this Friday for this amazing opportunity. Reach out and grab it.