A Letter to the Most Illustrious
the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi,
written Christmas Eve, Anno Domini 1513.

I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you do not already posses. However, 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. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in darkness,
could we but see, and to see
we have only to look. 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.

Our 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 surface,
that you will find that 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 home through an unknown country.

And so, at this time, I greet you!
Not quite as the world sends greetings
but with profound esteem, and with the prayers that for you now and forever,
the day breaks,
and shadows flee away.

Fra Giovanni

Sent to me by Julia Heflin, 1987.  The British Museum stated in 1970 that it has proven impossible to confirm
Fra Giovanni (c. 1435-1515), as the author of this letter. The letter was published, probably in the 1930s, “with Christmas Greetings” from Greville MacDonald, son of novelist George MacDonald, and Mary MacDonald.


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