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
3 thoughts on “Turning Darkness Into Light: Shadows Flee Away”
Thank you, Emily, for this important and life-changing reminder!
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Giovanni’s 16th Century prescient 16th Century letter and your cogent, practical comments in today’s posting, Emily, both ring true for our present suffering world of those godless people motivated by hatred of ‘the other’ and intense greed and hypocrisy. (I am reminded of the Hebrew Scriptures’ Wisdom books, especially Ecclesiastes’ 1:9 prophetic observation that ‘nothing is new under the sun.’
As we all await with joy and thanksgiving in remembrance of humanity’s eternal salvation, the birth of Jesus, God-made-Man, to live among us, teaching and showing us how to love and serve The Father. And we give thanks for the Son, Jesus’ promise that He would be present in Spirit among us forever.
I cannot help but wonder that perhaps Ecclesiastes’ quote needs to be revised, updated with the Good News!
A miracle occurred in Bethlehem millennia ago that changed Humanity, the World, the Universe:
God Almighty, in His overpowering singular love, came to us in the form of a tiny infant in the person of His Son, Jesus.
As I view the inane annual materialistic spree for ‘Christmas gifts’ each year that usually begins in October, I cannot
help but observe that perhaps we have forgotten what the original ‘gift’ was, and remains with us. Jesus showed us in clear, understanding
ways how we can and should be gift to others. (And we don’t need credit cards for that.)
Thank you for helping us, dear Emily, to stay on the ‘path’ – that straight line to all that is good and blessed in Jesus’ eyes.
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Thank you, Alice!!