There is nothing I can give you that you do not already have,
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 today.
No peace lies in the future
Which is not hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow;
Behind it, yet within reach, is joy.
And so, at this Christmastime,
I greet you with the prayer that for you,
Now and forever,
The day breaks and the shadows flee away.
– Fra Giovanni Giocondo letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi, Christmas Eve 1513
We are reminded in hundreds of self-help books, both secular and faith-based, to count our blessings in order to find happiness in our daily existence. The point is to peer out from under the shadow of gloom and grumbles to where light and hope is unimpeded.
It’s good advice as old as the Psalms, even if some folks don’t want to associate gratitude and blessings with Someone who actually bestows them.
There are some days when the shadows overpower all feelings of thanksgiving: seeing the tent and box cities of the homeless expanding, watching the numbers of sick and dying rise exponentially, witnessing the suffering of the lonely and isolated among us. How is it possible for us to grasp heaven or feel peace when all seems so bleak?
That is exactly why the Babe was born so many years ago, bringing with Him the Light and Hope so sorely needed by the world then and the world now. With His dawning, shadows flee away; we only need to take the joy and peace He offers.
Oh little child it’s Christmas night
And the sky is filled with glorious light
Lay your soft head so gently down
It’s Christmas night in Bethlehem town.
Chorus: Alleluia the angels sing
Alleluia to the king
Alleluia the angels sing
Alleluia to the king.
Sleep while the shepherds find their way
As they kneel before you in the golden hay
For they have brought you a woolly lamb
On Christmas night in Bethlehem.
Sleep till you wake at the break of day
With the sun’s first dawning ray
You are the babe, who’ll wear the crown
On Christmas morn in Bethlehem town.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Alleluia