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Daily Inspiration - August 10: Within Our Reach

This wonderfully reassuring letter came to my attention just last month, when it was used as a devotion at the Zoom meeting of the First Baptist Church Board of Deacons, of which my wife Janet is a member.  Apparently it has been popular in the United States for the last century, especially at Christmas.  The work is attributed to Fra ("Father") Giovanni Giocondo (c. 1435-1515), an Italian Franciscan friar, classical scholar, and architect.  The letter is addressed to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi (try pronouncing that!), a benefactor of Fra Giocondo who lived in Verona in northern Italy.  It is said to have been written at Christmas Eve, 1513, at which time Verona was in the midst of a pandemic that claimed 13,000 lives.  While the authorship of the letter has been questioned, this matters little as we consider the parallels to own time and place.  May we be blessed with the grace to be open, even in these extraordinary times, to the wonders of love and life and God's presence in all things. Ted Reinke  

“Within Our Reach” by Fra Giovanni Giocondo

I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. 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. So take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present moment. So 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 if we could only 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 their coverings, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love. 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. Life is so full of meaning and 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 all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, toward 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.

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