Letter to a Friend
I am your friend
and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you
which you have not 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 today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future
which is not hidden
in this present little instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within 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.
Letter written by
Fra Giovanni (1513)
Biography on Fra Giovanni (c. 1435-1515):
Italian architect, engineer, and antiquary. A Franciscan friar, he was accomplished
in philosophy, archaeology, and classical literature. He is best known for
his architectural and engineering works. He designed a drainage system for the Venice
lagoons. He also built the fortifications of Treviso, and is universally credited with
the design of the Palazzo del Consiglio (1476) at Verona, an elegant, arcaded monument
of the early Renaissance. He accompanied Charles VIII to France in 1495 as court architect.
Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2005)
Web Links on Fra Giovanni:
Catholic Encyclopedia: Biography
Letter to a Friend
Fra Giovanni's Vitruvian Man (1511)
Fra Giovanni's Intarsia Polyhedra (1520)
Intarsia panel by Fra Giovanni in Verona
Raphael's Disputa depicting Fra Giovanni?
Giovanni Angelico of Fiesole, painter (1387-1455)