Dedicated to all of our troops abroad
who will not be home to
share Christmas with their

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 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 of purpose,
so full of beauty—beneath its covering—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 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.

attributed to:
A Letter to the Most Illustrious
the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi,
Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513

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Music: Christmas Midi
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