Letters to a Kindred Spirit

Monday, May 25, 2009

I spent this weekend in Sunset Beach, NC, a quaint sandy haven about 30 miles south of Wilmington sandwiched between Ocean Isle and Myrtle Beach. Like many NC beaches, the scenery was beautiful, especially because of the lack of commercialization and absence of high rise hotels on the ocean front making it one of those few beaches where mom and pop shops still reign over cookie cutter chain stores and restaurants. 

There's also a great deal of wildlife at Sunset, and I saw four deer in the dunes outside of our rental just during the short three days we were there! I also found a large beautiful conch, and dozens of hermit crabs in the tidal pools by the shoreline.

The beach is aptly named for its beautiful sunsets.
Photo Source: City Data

My favorite part of the beach, which can be accessed by a one-lane swinging pontoon bridge that is the last of it's kind on the East Coast, is Bird Island. A small barrier island to the West of Sunset Beach, Bird Island is beautiful and offers its quiet, sandy shores for barefoot beach walkers, wildlife lovers, seashell collectors and soul seekers alike. Aside from its obvious natural beauty, there's one long-time local tradition that causes a bit of magic to float in the air. Just when you think you've walked right to the edge of the island, there in the dunes is a simple, ebony mailbox in the sand with the golden words "Kindred Spirit" on its side.

The Kindred Spirit mailbox has been visited by thousands 
over the past 27 years.
Photo Source: Sea Trail

It would be so easy to miss if you weren't looking for it, but I had listened closely to the walking directions I received (for those who wish to visit the Kindred Spirit mailbox, read on for more on where to find it). 

As soon I heard about the Kindred Spirit mailbox, I knew I had to see it for myself. The mailbox is filled with notebooks, pens and pencils along with the stories and tales of all the travelers who've journeyed to this place. Each entry begins with the phrase "Dear Kindred Spirit." The journals are filled with prayers, wishes, thanksgivings, personal stories and more - each writer adding his or her own bits of wisdom to the collection. 

An empty wooden park bench sits just in front of the Kindred Spirit mailbox, offering its oceanfront seat to visitors who've journeyed to this spot so they're able to read the stories and share their own. 

Then, once the notebooks and journals are complete, they're mailed to their mysterious owner - the Kindred Spirit - who lovingly reads, collects and saves each spiralbound book of stories. 

You may find it a bit funny that this Kindred Spirit has a Web presence as well. But I can't imagine emailing the Kindred Spirit being as powerful as that long beach walk to that quiet sanctuary. And being able to read what others wrote is at least half the experience. 

If you'd like to visit the Kindred Spirit mailbox yourself, from the last public Sunset Beach pier make a right and head southwest. It's about an hour walk there and back. Like most things in life, it's about the journey, especially in a world where every thing else seems instantaneous. After a mile and a quarter, you'll see a second flag pole, and you'll find the mailbox there at the foot of it. 

So if you're feeling like you just need to escape from the daily grind, go and get away. Watch a sunset, hold hands with someone you love and maybe even write a letter to someone you've never met.


Anonymous said...

I just walked there this morning. I saw the sunrise on the way. Then I left a note in one of the notebooks. Beatiful place where you can sense the great love of God for us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, kindred spirit.

Anonymous said...


I was there this past week. I know a little bit about the mailbox history. The web site and the real mailbox are not related in any way.

Anonymous said...

We walked to "the" mailbox this morning--over a mile from the ramp near the street. The messages were so personally moving for us. Loss of a mate. Joyful expressions of God's beauty. Missing those who have already gone before them. Prayers for those who are dreading deaths and separation. Some just fun, simple words like one from a child: "I just love the beach. Don't you?"

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