Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.14351515)
There is nothing 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 it to-day. 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 the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. Contessina 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 splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angels hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angels 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 of purpose, so full of beautybeneath its coveringthat 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 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, A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513 (193?)
The British Museum stated in 1970 that it had proved impossible to identify Fra Giovanni, the purported author of this letter. This was published, probably in the 1930s, with Christmas Greetings from Greville MacDonald, son of novelist George MacDonald, and Mary MacDonald.