My grandson loves to color pictures with crayons and markers. When we do it together it’s especially enjoyable for both of us. Even though he’s only five, we’ll sit for up to two hours coloring together. We pretend we’re artists. His “masterpieces” go up on the refrigerator. Mine, later, get discreetly trashed.
It’s my trashing of my work with him that got me to thinking. The colored pictures I do with him, or the crossword puzzles I enjoy doing in the morning paper, all get trashed when they’re finished. There’s an important distinction that comes to light here: when I think about it, the end-product of what I do is not my goal (as his probably is). My goal is what is contained in the process. With puzzles the process of meeting the mental challenges to memory and vocabulary (especially as I grow older) is what they’re all about – not the finished product. With the pictures I color with my grandson, for me it’s not about the finished product. Rather, it’s about the process of doing something enjoyable together that affords me built-in opportunities to bolster his self-esteem and confidence.
So, why am I writing to You about this? – because, as I think about it, it actually applies to these letters I write You. With them too the goal is actually the process I go through in writing them – not the finished letter, which, indeed, could be trashed but for the fact that I like to revisit and reflect on them in different ways. These letters are, to me, a form of prayer, and, as with prayer, the most valuable part is the process – not the end-result. The praying is in the process. When a letter is finished the inner, ongoing moment of connection and dialogue is done until it’s revisited. But while it’s in process it’s alive! It’s my way of coloring a picture with You.