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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

#4 – The Mysterious Mailbox on Sunset Beach


Welcome to The Lemonade Stand for the fourth in our summer series on using whatever ingredients you have — the sour or the salty, the savory or the sweet — to find beauty in life.

Tell me, friend—is there a situation you’ve prayed about for so long that you’re beginning to doubt you’ve been heard? 

 

Maybe you’ve been holding your heartache out to God like a disgruntled worker on a picket line – frantically waving your scrawled sign in hopes it will catch his attention as you pace. 

 

Or maybe you’re flattened against your own personal wailing wall – crying out to the Ancient of Days as you insert paper prayers into the cracks of the situation causing you anguish.

 

What if there was a place to deposit your prayers that came with a guarantee they’d be seen?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Little River, South Carolina

 

At the rehearsal dinner just before our friends’ wedding, a guest leaned across the table.

 

“You’re a writer, so you must know about the mailbox on the beach.”

 

Confessing ignorance, I listened as Deb described a mysterious black mailbox that appeared high on a dune on a remote section of nearby Sunset Beach nearly 50 years ago.


At the time, no one knew who had attached it to the weathered post, or why. It was identified solely by 13 stick-on letters—the kind available at any hardware store – that spelled out Kindred Spirit. Inside were a handful of plain white envelopes, a couple pens, letter-paper.

 

No stamps. Any messages deposited would never be mailed.

 

But they would be seen.

 

In the months and years to come, occasional beachgoers stumbled across the odd box on the beach. Intrigued, they would pop open the door, peruse the letters and postcards within, and sometimes deposit notes of their own.

 

And when the box became too full, the unknown Keeper of the Mailbox quietly removed the contents for safekeeping [1], allowing it to fill once more with wanderers’ hopes and dreams, prayers and pleas.

 

As news of the mailbox spread, an unknown benefactor installed a bench, then another, providing a resting place for the curious and the seeking who came ashore with the coastal tide.

 

People like me.

 

On the morning of the wedding, Mike and I rose early and arrived at Sunset Beach shortly after sunrise.

 

“Park near the pier and then start walking west,” our new friend had advised. “It’s a good two-mile walk to the mailbox, and since it’s on Bird Island you’ll want to go at low tide.”

 

The South Carolina sun was beading our foreheads when we made it to the mailbox. Mike settled on a bench to review his homily for that afternoon’s ceremony, while I pulled out several notebooks and began to read.

#MitchMackeyNeedsAKidney

Some were cries for help - a wife desperate to find a kidney donor for her husband. "My heart hurts, but it will heal when he does."


Some were lengthy prayers penned in a teenager’s hand:

“Dear Jesus,  Thank you for this morning and an opportunity to be with you after camp…I am filled with anxiety because I have no idea what my future [holds]…I want to pray over my family, that Jack finds comfort or a wife , and Emma starts a relationship with you, and my parents’ piece (sic) of mind during this time… Seeing Ava and Ellie commit their lives to Christ was the best feeling. Thank you Jesus for being a constant in my life.”  ~ Maddie

Others were scrawls of glee: “I’m gonna marry this one!” ~Ashley

 

A few were bitter, using the anonymity of the box to post recriminations about failed relationships. (“To my ex-husband:  @#*% you! I am so DONE with you.”)

 

One was certainly a kindred spirit: “Help me not to worry about how I look in a bathing suit.”

 

Still others used the box as a sort of guestbook: “Great time – lovely beach – thanks!”

 

A few other beach-walkers approached as I read, the rising sun painting the sky salmon. One middle-aged woman, fit and tanned, leaned on the box as she hastily penned a message and then turned away, smiling.

 

“I always write the same thing,” she said. “'Please find a cure for Type -1 diabetes.' I have a monitor and pump, but ya’ know it gets old.”

 

An attractive younger woman, hair pulled back into a high ponytail, saw Mike and I perched on the bench and turned away, her face petulant. “It’s not the same anymore since that novelist [2] wrote about this place,” she sniffed. “Too many people here now.”

 

As Mike and I started back to the pier, we prayed. The messages in the box were from women and men, the young and those pushing the edges of the far boundary of life. What made them come to Bird Island to find the Kindred Spirit box?  Maybe it was the true Spirit itself that drew them – the Holy One.

 

The one whose presence is promised to us.

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”  Heb. 1: 1-2
JESUS: “ But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].  John 16:7 AMP

So. . .  did I leave a message in the box? What do you think?

Sunset Beach, SC - June 15, 2024

And what would you have written?

 

“I will answer them before they even call to me.

While they are still talking about their needs,

I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”

Isaiah 65: 24 NLT


-- Maggie W. Rowe, 2024


[1] The University of North Carolina reportedly is now the repository for nearly 3,000 journals left in the Kindred Spirit mailbox over the decades.

[2] Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath, 2019


Maggie Wallem Rowe is a national speaker and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. The author of This Life We Share and Life is Sweet, Y'all, Maggie never met a mailbox she didn't like, except an empty one.

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