I’ve browsed, read, scanned, and studied countless civil war letters over the past two years. It’s been entertaining, to be sure! I’ve found myself growing, not only in my love for the history, but also in knowledge. I’ve grown to admire the people that have endured so much. I’ve often found myself laughing out loud at some of the descriptions or at trash talk that was often exchanged between enemies. But sweeter than that, were the rare times when these faded words spoke Truth to my heart.
I was blessed to get my hands on a copy of Old Enough to Die by Ridley Willis II. This collection of family letters were extremely helpful to me in my research. And it was within these pages that I found a beautiful nugget of truth that deserves to be shared. This particular letter is addressed to a sister. And he writes:
I am sorry that you allow yourself to have the “blues” which you complain of having, in your letter. It is a disease, which like chills, will become chronic if allowed to continue unchecked. I have, in my younger days, sometimes indulged myself in gloomy dreams and fancies but I have quit the bad habit. I have suffered more intensely from the anticipation of evils that never came to pass, than I have ever from actual, real sorrows.I have learned that real happiness has its source in the heart and not in external circumstances….Happiness is like the sunlight, free to all, high and low, rich and poor alike, and is only denied to those who willfully shut themselves up in the darkness. Have the blues no more. Turn your thoughts more upon the blessing which you have, rather than to those which you have not; never double sorrows by anticipating them but wait till they come upon you and then, forget them as soon as possible. -J.L. Bostick