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As the days and weeks slip by towards the seasons of Christmas and of New Year, some of us find we have a problem. We will want to send someone a greeting, but we don’t know quite what to say. Maybe it’s a friend who has been through the mill in some way. Maybe there has been a major illness, even one that still affects his or her life. Maybe there has even been loss and bereavement. There can be many reasons. The point is that we can’t just waltz into that person’s life with nothing more than a bright smile and the wish for them of the joys of the season. Of course a smile is important but we know there has to be some acknowledgement of what they have been through or are still battling.  

Let me share a lovely thing I have had for many years. You may have seen it before but you may also be glad to be reminded of it. Its between four and five hundred years old, Its part of a longer letter from someone named Fra Giovanni to a friend. 

“I salute you. There is nothing I can give you that you do not have, but there is much that, while I cannot give you, 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 that is not hidden in the present. Take Peace. 

The gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it, but within our reach, is Joy. Take Joy. 

And so at this season I greet you, with the prayer that, for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

What a beautiful thing? It was written in the year 1513 but it could have been written yesterday. I offer it to you as a small but lovely gift that you may wish to use in the seasons that draw near to us.