March 8, 2008 Susan’s Thursday Morning Note Intangible gifts from a friend of joy, courage, peace, heaven. Fra Giovanni 1433-1515
Good morning! Hot coffee helping my brain get my fingertips ready to type my thoughts. Little robin dangling her unfortunate worm outside my window. Sun wore light yellow pajamas last night and is just rising to encourage me to write for you. My morning angel peers behind the robin with her bright eyes, smiling into my home and into my eyes, encouraging me to look up to the skies, to see the moon as it leaves for the day and tell him thank you for his gift again last night of beauty. She encourages me with her eyes to look down and see the little squirrel and to laugh. To watch the squirrels jumping between trees with my little one laughing already at his backyard friends. Now little young red birds join the worm hunt. The sun has made the sky look as if on fire. Welcome beautiful day. Our gift.
This week I have had a letter written over 500 years ago in my mind. A letter written on Christmas Eve giving the intangible gifts of peace, heaven, courage, and joy. Following this beautiful letter are quotes on these gifts. Divine gifts. Handed 500 years ago from angels, handed already this morning from angels. Eternity. Past. Future. All so much the same. Courage. Peace. Joy. Heaven.
Letter to a Friend by Fra Giovanni (Italian Architect, famous designer of bridges and buildings throughout Italy, 1433-1515 Letter written in place of a tangible gift on Christmas Eve to his friend, handing him the gift of peace, heaven, courage, joy.
I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. 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 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 the 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 the 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, 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 covering – that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home. And so, at this 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.
”Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Pope John Paul II
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Khalil Gibran (The deeper your pain on Earth, the emptier your bowl when you arrive in heaven. The emptier your bowl, the more delight when you enter heaven because more joy will be poured into your chasm).
“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Oscar Wilde
“Laughter is the sunbeam of the soul.” Thomas Mann
“Joy is strength.” Mother Teresa
“There is joy in self-forgetfulness. So I try to make the light other’s eyes my sun, the music in other’s ears my symphony, the smile on other’s lips my happiness.” Helen Keller
“There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go.” Frederick William Faber
“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
“The hero is no braver than an ordinary person, but he or she s brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” Helen Keller
“I lift up my eyes to the hills…where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord watches over you. The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm. he will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121
I have a treasure written by my dad to me before he died. A small sheet of paper with these words, “Susan, the joy of the Lord is your strength, so keep the joy. Your dad.” I hear his voice and his trumpet blasting out the song, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength, the Joy of the Lord is my strength, the Joy of the Lord is my strength, the Joy of the Lord is my strength…” Intangible gifts are the greatest gifts we can receive. Joy. Courage. Heaven. Peace. Not the joy of _____. Right after his death I had the inner words of no more deep joy. Deep laughter. Rhubarb. Root Beer Floats. Apple Pie. Music. Then I heard his voice in my mind after the accident singing out to me, “The Joy of the Lord is your strength,…” Keep the joy. So basic. I look to the hills. I look to the robins. I look to the skies. I look to the moon. I look ot the heavens. the promise of the peace that no human will understand is immediately handed to me. Thank you for again letting me enter your Thursday morning. Tonight we will have the opportunity to carve into stone moments today. Will we have moments worthy of inscription? Will we look into eyes? Will we look upwards? Will we hear our birds? Will we let them sing to us? Susan
Latin for this week: gaudium, exultatio – joy caelum – heaven pax, quies, tranquillitas animi, cum pace – peace fortitudo, spiritus – courage divinum donum – divine gift