If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.
I am a quote addict. Not only do I collect quotes in a file and own numerous books of quotes, I am compelled to uncover the identities of the people who make statements that are of particular interest.
(This person named, “Unknown”, is a very prolific philosopher, but is completely off the grid.)
Last Christmas, I gave several close friends the book, Joy,
by Dan Zadra. There was one quote in that book by a person I had never heard of, Fra. Giovanni Giocondo*. I googled the name and found that the quote was actually an excerpt from a longer letter written on Christmas Eve, 1513, to a dear friend.
So giving as the angels give, I am posting his letter below:
I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
Take peace! There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
I beseech you to look!
Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.
Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.
And so at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
*Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist,classical scholar, and Franciscan friar. Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi onChristmas Eve, 1513.