The letter caught me by surprise.
It arrived in a very ordinary, legal-sized envelope with my name and address neatly scribed on the front of it. These days, there's rarely mail in my mailbox that has actual handwriting on it. Around a birthday, perhaps, I might find an envelope with my name handwritten. Or maybe the chiropractor, financial consultant, or new hair stylist will send me a "thank you for your business" card.
But this looked personal. It looked like care and effort was put into the addressing and stuffing of the envelope. How rare!
The return address was also handwritten, with a last name I did not recognize. Still skeptical, I assumed it must be a new marketing strategy for a local business. I've had that happen before - a piece of mail that looks personal only to be disappointed that the contents were an attempt to consolidate loans that I don't have or renew coverage on a vehicle I don't own. Surely, I won't fall for this again by getting my hopes up.
Yet there I was. My truck still idling in front of the mailbox. My hands still on the letter. The suspense still getting the best of me.
So I opened it.
The contents had a little more bulk than I had expected, for there wasn't just one piece of paper inside, but two! I carefully unfolded both papers and was immediately surprised by something. Where I had been expecting black text on a white background, I found instead bright colors and shapes covering up every bit of white. The second piece of paper displayed a smaller sample of colors and had the words, "Thank you!" on the back.
Hmm, I thought. Thank you? What did I do to warrant a thank you? This letter must have been meant for someone else. I picked up the envelope to re-examine the name on the front. Sharon Larson, it was.
Looking for clues, I turned over the first brightly-decorated, crayon-adorned paper, and there it was.
"Thank you for letting me visit your farm!" was written in elementary-school handwriting. Below that, in more adult handwriting, were the words, "Thank you for letting us visit your farm & showing us all of your animals. We all loved riding the horse! :) "
The list of names signed at the bottom finally solved the mystery. It was a lovely group of people - relatives of my neighbor. They had stopped by, adults and children, to see the horses, chickens and duck.
To my surprise, my eyes welled up.
I asked myself out loud "Why are you crying?!"
The answer immediately came to me. These children had colored pictures FOR ME. Do you even know the last time I've had a child color a picture and give it to me? Years, people. It's been years! My own children are too old for such things, and without realizing it, all child artwork halted.
I cried because I had forgotten the joy that a simple crayon on paper can bring. By creating a piece of art, these children were reminding me of past joys and joys to come.
THIS IS WHAT ART IS ABOUT!
There are people who judge art by how much it looks like a photograph. It's so much more than that. When we move past the expectations, we see deeper. We see where the feelings are.
This is art.
Wishing you a crayon kind of day,