an envelope through “confidential” scribbled throughout it with a Sharpie marker sit in a cardboard box on the shelf in my bedroom closet. The handwritten letter within is of distinct value to me, and I can not use yet carried myself to part with it. Twenty-five years ago, the interim minister of the church I offer penned this letter come me and also placed it in the height drawer of mine office desk. Once I uncovered it on my first day top top the job, I opened it to discover warm encouragement and wise counsel because that what seemed favor a daunting ministry assignment encountering a young pastoral soul.

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Chuck Claus’s letter come me won’t do it right into any history books. His native don’t bring the lasting significance of correspondence penned by the likes of Abigail Adams, Winston Churchill, or the apostle Paul. Come this day, though, his sentences breathe kindness and respect, which is what all an excellent personal letters strive for.

American presidents have actually been leaving an individual letters behind in the Oval Office workdesk for their successors ever because Ronald Reagan began this quiet tradition. George H. W. Bush may have actually left the most striking one of the bunch, made all the more remarkable given his bruising 1992 presidential project loss to bill Clinton. The letter the left in the desk drawer before exiting the White home a final time, reprinted here, is exemplary for its generous tone. In a mere 11 sentences, bush manages come share respect, display screen solidarity, refer humility, and offer encouragement. “I to be rooting tough for you,” that writes at the close. Clinton himself has praised this letter ~ above a number of occasions over the years for so beautiful encapsulating the heart and humanity of “Bush 41.”


Peter W. Marty is editor/publisher of the Century and senior pastor that St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa.

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we don’t know precisely how Donald Trump will certainly leave his presidency. But continuing this heritage of letter creating at the end, difficult as it have to be for any president, would be a tribute to the privilege of offer in the high office. The possibility for Trump come welcome his follower in this quiet means awaits him. And some thoughtful instances of composing pave the way.

A version of this article shows up in the publish edition under the title “A letter in the drawer.”