Four years ago, in what seems like a totally different lifetime as it was pre-kids, I asked the seniors in my British Literature course to pen their future selves a letter.
With the encouragement to write about who they were in that moment and who they hoped to be four years later, they poured out their stories onto pages and pages of paper.
Even my studens who were not writers.
Though a few groaned, most were excited to write it all out.
"You don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been," I'd said. "Because where we've been shapes us into the people who are walking into tomorrow."
I promised, gave my word that I would never ever read their letters.
I shared I would keep their letters for four years, and then I vowed to mail the letters so they would arrive four years from the exact day -- May 17th -- they penned them.
I've carried their words, never read, never opened, from house to house, room to room, transporting them from box to box during the past four years, keeping them safe and dry and in memory so that I wouldn't forget.
As I pulled their envelopes from the box, readied them to be shipped off at the post office, I thought about each of my past students.
And I thought about how much they've probably grown, wondering if Sam as a senoir in college reduces his college professors and classmates into fits of laughters by answering questions about British novels in his mock British accent.
Or if Rachel still falls heart first into novels and finds the most amazing theme emerging from the text, pulling them out applying them to life.
Or if Jesse still attacks each and every project, no matter his like or dislike of the material, with zeal and passion.
Or if Megan is still super organized, using color coded pens to group thoughts and ideas and places and people.
More, I wonder, though, if they've become people who are contributing their hearts and their passions and their talents -- these ever-so-seeminly-small gifts I recall -- to a needy world. If they've grown into their skins, embraced who they've been created to be and are giving of themselves.
As I seal each envelope, I pray each one has.
And I pray
that these words
in these letters
from the past
to the future
that is the now
bring clarity to the who they are in that very moment -- and that the who they are brings understanding to where they are going in their next few steps into a world where we desperately need their gifts.
I wonder -- what would you write to your future, four-years-from-now self? I've been pondering my own letter ... what I would say is important about who I am now.