• A Letter Between Former Friends

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    Dear State,

    I use the customary
    salutation even though this letter will make it clear that, in our
    case, we must consider it merely a convention and quite devoid of
    any real feeling. Oh, I know, we’ve had our times together when
    we were quite close indeed — but those days are, God be praised,
    behind us.

    To think how
    young I once was! At least, I’d like to blame it on my youth. Though
    my Father had
    warned me
    about your seductions — and though you yourself were
    quite
    cruel to me when we were growing up together back East
    — as
    a young woman I
    could not resist your charms
    . You were a man of action — so
    powerful and strong — so dashing in your uniform! And, frankly,
    as a young lady of my stature — a queen by birth, wasn’t I? – I
    felt at that time that I deserved the honor and wealth that you
    could provide for me. So, though I had been betrothed
    to another by my Father
    , I took up house with you.

    And how my
    manner changed almost immediately! With your wealth and honor came
    also pomp
    and violence.
    Where before I had been content to settle
    my quarrels with words
    , it was now all too easy for me to have
    you deal with them in more
    precipitous and (as I thought) effective ways
    .

    But it was
    as my Father said it would be — a chasing after the wind. I learned
    that your violent temper could not always be directed by my own
    will — that it would, in fact, often be directed at me. It was a
    long process — I came to my senses only slowly. Even when
    I first expressed my doubts about our relationship
    I would return
    time and again to your arms
    .

    But what finally
    did it was physical separation. As the flower of my youth faded
    into middle age, I began to feel suffocated by your very presence.
    I built new, humbler houses in the West
    and South
    and began
    to imagine life without you
    . I find I like that notion much
    better than I ever thought I would. I remembered my Father’s warnings,
    the purity of my childhood when you were openly against me — and
    the long-suffering patience of my Husband.

    But you know
    all that. I’m writing today for a different reason. If I could come
    to my senses, I still hold out some hope for you as well. Well,
    perhaps it is better to say that I hold out hope that you can stop
    being so much like yourself. I write today with a suggestion — something
    that really helped me recapture who I was meant to me. It may just
    help you become better than you are as well.

    When I moved
    out West I found that things were different, especially in one way:
    I didn’t have you there to force my children to support their Mother
    .
    At first, frankly, I was frightened by this prospect and tried to
    hang on to my privileges out here. If nobody forced them to support
    me, how would I survive in the style to which I had become accustomed?
    But what choice did I have? In the end, I had to give up the coercion
    and simply ask them to support me for the sake of love.

    And here is
    the funny thing: to ask for love means you have to give it; to remove
    coercion means you have to persuade. Nothing could have more quickly
    and surely transformed me back into my Father’s daughter and my
    Husband’s wife than this. Once your purse strings were cut from
    my hands, I found that they were free to hold
    on to things of much greater worth
    .

    Indeed, when
    I travel back East now, I find that I feel
    sluggish and weak because of my long connection to you in those
    parts
    . Something about the air is cleaner out West and down
    South — I can feel an energy in these old bones when I’m out there
    because these places hold no reminders for me of our misplaced love
    affair.

    So, at any
    rate, that is why I’m writing today: I think you should try it,
    too. Drop the coercion.
    Give your children the same freedom I had to give mine. I did so,
    and I found myself. Perhaps if you did so, you would find a new
    and better self. Stop coercing them for your support. If you are
    a good father to them, then they will be happy to support you. And
    if they don’t support you — well, I think you will find that poverty
    of that sort can be good for the soul.

    I have written
    enough and it is almost time for sunrise down South — and I do so
    love to hear the children sing Labia mea aperies — they are
    so happy, so
    free
    (sons of the kingdom are free).

    Most Sincerely,
    Christi
    Ecclesia

    December
    30, 2010

    Rev.
    H. R. Curtis [send him mail]
    is a Lutheran (LCMS) pastor in rural Illinois and the editor
    of Daily
    Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal
    , the only English-language
    daily missal in the Lutheran tradition. The book is available in
    both paperback
    and hardcover.

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