“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”. 1 John 3:18
Seven years worth of letters. Seven years of writing to her child, telling her about her life and mentioning so many things of little consequence. Asking her about her likes, her favorite subjects in school, her favorite sport or her favorite foods.
Getting letters back in return, asking her what her favorite color was, what her home was like, did she plant corn or did she plant anything.
The letters went back and forth for seven years. Some years there were more letters than others. Some years the communication was tangible. The letters made sense, there seemed to be a lot to talk about.
Some years not so much. At times they seemed distant to one another. As if they really didn’t know one another. The questions seemed so generic. How many times are you going to ask me the same question? How many times do I have to ask the same question before I get an answer?
And yet she still wrote to her girl, little Dhanya. And Dhanya faithfully wrote back. For seven years.
As time went on the letters took on a deeper significance. They were impactful. They were meaningful. She realized that somehow as time moved on, her letters were making a difference in Dhanya’s life. Somehow this little girl was gaining sight of what she was intended to be. There was purpose, there was an end in sight that looked hopeful.
So the letters continued. Another year gone by. Now the letters were words of encouragement. Tell me of your dreams. Tell me what you hope to become someday.
And Dhanya’s letters gave her hope too. Dhanya wanted her sponsor to know how important she was to her. How much she loved her. How she was excited to receive her letters. How she saved them all in a special place in her home.
How one year the rains came and threatened to sweep everything away. How the water rushed in to her tiny home and destroyed everything they owned. How she risked her very life to get back into the house and retrieve the only thing that mattered to her, her letters. The letters that made her smile when she had nothing to smile about. The letters that brought her hope when all was hopeless. The letters that she would read again and again, especially now that the rains had taken everything. Almost everything. The rains could not take away her hope, her joy.
She had to save them. They had saved her.
And so many times this sponsor had thought she might have to quit writing, she might have to quit sponsoring. In those seven years she had grown too. She was no longer a young schoolgirl with bright dreams of her own. She was now a mother of two with rent to pay and work to be done. So much work.
Diapers to change, and baths to be given. Get dinner on the table, her husband would be home soon. Pay the bills, did she forget to pay the utility bill? Oh no, is the electricity about to be shut off? The kids need new shoes and the doctor bills are mounting. There just isn’t enough money at the end of the month.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider this long distance relationship. What difference am I really making? How much difference could I really make to a little girl in a faraway place like India? She asked these questions almost every night as she tucked her own little girls into bed.
And when everyone would go to sleep and the distractions of the day would turn in for the night too; she would pray. God am I really making a difference in Dhanya’s life? Does the $38 I send every month really help to supply some of her needs? And as she talked to God in her quiet time she would feel compelled to write Dhanya another letter. She would go to the box that she stored all of Dhanya’s letters in. She would pull them out and begin to read them again.
Some of them felt like it was the first time she had read them. As if they had just come in the mail that day. Some of them felt like old friends. So comforting and so familiar.
And the thing she held onto as she read each letter was just how beloved she knew she was by Dhanya.
She saw the words that she had seen a hundred times. The words that Dhanya always used in every letter.
She saw that Dhanya had become her beloved too.
Every letter for seven years had always ended – To my beloved, “with a thousand kisses”. Love Dhanya.
And she realized that she had started every letter to this little girl – My beloved Dhanya.
How could she even think to stop? How could she leave her beloved? And so she held on to those words… with a thousand kisses. They became a promise. They became a beacon.
And now she knew what she must do. Whatever it took, she would save and she would work harder. She knew that she would have to visit Dhanya. She had to see with her own eyes what her love had produced. She already knew what Dhanya’s love had produced in her.
So she made sacrifices. She took on ways to earn a little extra money. She made a commitment in her heart to see and hold Dhanya.
And that dream came true for her and the little Indian girl named Dhanya. And I suppose if anyone was actually counting, there were more than a thousand kisses given to each other on that day.
Maybe a thousand and one.
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” from Song of Solomon