Brian opened the door for me and I slid into the back seat of a taxi cab for our 10-minute ride deeper into downtown San Diego.

“Are you here for business or for vacation?” the driver asked as we passed palm trees and then drove by street lamps that curved into modern art.

Both, we answered. I would spend my day attending a conference, while my husband walked to a maritime museum and searched for the best seafood.

“I make sure to go on vacation every year,” the driver said. “It’s important to get away, and I have family I need to see.

“In Denmark. In London. In parts of Canada.

“I have about 1,200 family members,” he said as we passed a Marriott and a Hyatt. “Some people I haven’t seen in 22 years. Some I’ve only spoken to on the phone or on the computer.”

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” Brian asked.

Four brothers and two sisters, he said, before telling us how many children and grandchildren each of them had. And he knew details. How this one wanted a boy after so many girls. How that one told her mother such-and-such.

They weren’t just names written in cursive on the family tree, they were written in his heart. They were family. All of them.

Brian paid him for the ride, and I stepped up on the curb and silently thanked God for the reminder that we can’t always control the distance, but we’re only as distant as we allow ourselves to be.

If you are looking for ways to stay in touch with young friends and family members, I’ve put together a list of 42 fun things to send through the mail. I’ve also wrote a series called “When Ministry Comes in the Mail” because I believe people want something other than bills in their mailboxes, something that gives rather than takes. They want something other than junk mail, something that tells them they are worth treasuring.

-- Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who can’t stop writing about what is sacred and holy. She is a native of Oklahoma but makes her home in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two crazy boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. Find more of her writing at SimplyFaithful.com or check out her book, “Simply Faithful: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life.”