It's Monday, my day off, with nothing on the schedule. It's a good thing, too, because I'm really tired, after a rewarding but action-packed week, followed by a mighty full weekend of Circle events. Looking forward to spending the day outdoors, maybe going for a walk, or laying out in yard, playing guitar or pushing my pen over some blank sheets of paper for the sheer pleasure of non-goal-directed creativity.
There's just one small task that lies between me and this delicious day off: a trip to the Bulk Mail department at the main post office to deliver four large trays of envelopes that a dozen, sweet volunteers helped process yesterday. No big deal; if I'm lucky, the drop-off will take just a few minutes, and perhaps I'll use the cross-town drive as an excuse to go to a movie or a hike through Hardberger Park. Nice ideas.
But when I start carrying the trays of mail out to the car, I notice that we forgot to include the words "Return Service Requested" under our return address when these new envelopes were printed. Arrrggghh!! Without this "ancillary service endorsement," the post office won't accept this as bulk mail. Meaning I'll either have to spend $420 buying and affixing 854 first class stamps (NOT!), or handwrite the qualifying phrase on each envelope. Bummer.
Instantly, the brightly colored visions of my fantasy day off disappear and my mood turns sour, imagining the hours of work involved in unpacking, handwriting and repacking all this mail. Kicking myself for failing to notice this detail earlier, at the print shop. Or at least yesterday, when there were a dozen friendly volunteers who could have helped with this daunting task.
Of course, I could get on the phone now and try to round up some Circle friends to come help, but what are the chances of succeeding on such short notice on a workday? Slim to none. If I called enough folks, it probably could happen tonight or tomorrow, but that would mean delaying the mailing for another day or two, which feels unacceptable, too. "Got to do it today, got to do it alone, " mutters my ever-diligent Monkey Mind.
Feeling dumb, glum and sorry for myself, I begin to settle into the task at hand, when suddenly I remember that this very same thing had happened a couple of years ago - and that Zet had a "Return Service Requested" rubber stamp made for the occasion. Sure enough, not only does it turn up after a quick search through the office supply closet, but the built-in inkpad is still moist, too. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.
The mood shifts and I decide to embrace this bulk mailing process as a gift. Why not make it fun? We still have a nice assortment of crackers and imported cheeses left over from a recent party; then add some almonds and a few of those fresh-picked, organic strawberries we got at the farmers market on Saturday. And why not a glass of that tasty Prosecco left over from the party, too?
With this nice lunch in hand, and a fresh feeling in my heart, I start rubber-stamping the first handful of envelopes and immediately begin smiling as several of the names on the address labels jump right off the page, bringing sweet thoughts and memories to mind. There's Barbara's husky voice, laughing at her own goofy jokes. And my very tall, friend Mark, leaning down to hug me. David and Karen, standing on the front porch of their cabin; Daniel's impish grin; Kat's wise words; Thom's artistry; Bill and Jana's garden. The list goes on and on, and I'm pleasantly surprised to find distinct memories embedded in the vast majority of these individual names, and by the feelings of love, support and generosity that comes pouring through them, too.
Twenty-three years and thousands of details later, it is all too easy to get caught up in "the work" of the Circle, and overlook the love involved. But not this time! Because this is no longer a boring clerical task, but a rich opportunity to reconnect with so many loved ones, and the gift of their sustained friendship and support of the Celebration Circle.
Two hours later, the work is done, and the mailing trays have been handed off to the friendliest post office clerk I've ever met. Now I clearly see that this "printing error" was actually a very special gift in disguise; iinstead of being just another bulk mailing, this was truly a Special Delivery, hand-addressed to me. And if you're on our mailing list, and receive one of those hand-stamped envelopes, I really hope you can feel the joy with which it was mailed to you!
With gratitude and blessings,