A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia degli Aldobrandeschi:
“To you on this day: I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing that I can give you which you have not got, 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 today. Take heaven. No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present little instant. Take peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There’s a radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see, and to see we only have 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, heavy, or hard.
Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor woven of love by wisdom and with power. Welcome it, grasp it and you will touch the angel’s hand that it brings to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty, believe me that the angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence is there.
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, and beneath its covering you will find earth but close to it your heaven. Courage then to claim it. That is all. But courage you have and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together winding through unknown country, home.
And so at this Christmastime I greet you my future friend: 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, in 1513
This was first published in the 1930’s but the British Museum was unable to verify it’s origin. The attribution may be an urban myth but it remains an excellent message.
Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year!