When I went to address my Christmas cards this past year, I noticed how shabby my old address book was. After all, it’s about 20 years old. So I decided to buy a new one.
Both my old and new address books are about the same size: 5” X 8”. My old address book is dark blue. My new one is black. I would have preferred a green or red or floral one, but the store had only black. I have a hunch the store doesn’t sell too many address books in this age of computers.
My old address book is very disorderly. Every page has addresses or phone numbers crossed out. Some people have moved three or four times since I first entered their names. I think I bought this address book when I lived in Detroit—which means I too have moved several times since I bought it. A number of individuals in the book have died: my beloved parents, my dear brother John, several aunts and uncles, a few friends. It’s going to be hard when I don’t transfer their names and addresses into the new book—just one more tangible and painful reminder that they are really gone.
There are a few names in the book that have been in my address book since I first started keeping one. How lucky I am to have such friends and family members who have walked so much of this earthly journey with me no matter where we have lived. There are a couple of people in the book that I haven’t heard from in years. I fear some have died. Others have just drifted away. Not all friends walk the entire journey with us. Some walk only part of the way. And that’s okay.
My old address book is stuffed with slips of paper, return labels, business cards, and sticky notes of all kinds and colors. I’ll have to sort through them when I transfer the names to my new book. Hopefully my new address book with be much neater than the old one—until I make the first inevitable change of address or phone number in it. Or until I slip in a return address label, telling myself to remember to copy it into the book—and forgetting to do so.
Many people today don’t have address books, I know. They store all such information on their computers. I too have some names and addresses on my computer. But I still prefer to have a real old-fashioned address book—something I can hold in my hand, something I can keep on a shelf or in a drawer, something that doesn’t require electricity in order for me to use it, and something the younger members of my family might leaf through after I die, wondering if there’s anyone in it they should notify of my demise. Like many people my age, I straddle two worlds—the slower, more comfortable old-fashioned era and the racing, more frantic post-modern tech era. (From my choice of words, you can detect my leaning.)
When I write the names and addresses in my new address book, I plan to do so prayerfully. I will thank God for each person individually. And I will thank God for all the people who don’t get transferred into the new book too. Then I’ll thank God for all the human connections that make life so rich and meaningful. And I will remind myself that all earthly addresses are, in the long run, only temporary. In the end we will all dwell together in love at the same eternal heavenly address.
Do you have an address book? If so, what does it look like? Did you ever think to pray with it?