Thursday, December 24, 2015

nothing I can give you which you have not

Most Noble Contessina:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not. 
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. 
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. 
Take Joy! 

There is radiance and glory in 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 their 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, 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. 
Your 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 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 shadows flee away.

your servant,
 Fra Giovanni

~ Ernest Temple Hargrove

The name of a certain "16th century monk" is familiar now to millions of people but, he never lived; he was created by an English barrister, Ernest Temple Hargrove.  With the arrival of Christmas season each year, the monk, Fra Giovanni, becomes better known, and his creator drifts farther into obscurity.  This is the way Mr. Hargrove wanted it.  Hargrove was born into a distinguished English family, came to the United States as a young man and spent many years in religious endeavors, particularly in the field of writing.

Before his death in 1939 Hargrove composed a Christmas greeting to a friend, writing in literary style that gave a medieval  flavor to his message.  The greeting took the form of a letter from a monk to an Italian countess.  According to a close friend, G.M.W. Kobbe of New York, Hargrove secured no copyright, feeling that if his greeting carried a real message there should be no impediment to it's circulation. With the passage of years, the letter is now thought of as the perfect Christmas card by a great host of appreciative readers, many of whom believe Fra Giovanni was a real person.

The monk is imaginary but the letter and the message are real.

~ Max L. Christensen - 1997

Ernest Temple Hargrove, of England, married to Amy Virginia Tehula Neresheimer, the daughter of Emil August Neresheimer, NYC diamond broker, on Tuesday, January 18, 1899, Church of the Holy Apostles, NYC.They had at least two children, William A, born in about 1902, and a daughter Joan, born about 1905.Hargrove was a prominent figure in the NY Theosophical Society, and later in life was known to have resided as a caretaker of the Chapel of the Comforter, located at 10 Horation St. in NYC.he eventually died in 1939.