Take Peace – A Lesson from Fra Giovanni

This will be a different post, but one I think perhaps we might all need, including me, after last week.

monk with flowers copyMore than thirty-five years ago, a friend tucked a folded parchment into a Christmas card.  It was a letter written by a 16th Century monk, Fra Giovanni. I was inspired by it, so I kept it and took it with me everywhere.

I put it up in my classrooms (extra credit if you can explain it) and on the walls of offices until it was tattered and torn.  It takes a little thought since it was written in 1513 thus worded a bit differently than today. But, I savor that and the letter itself is an invitation to look at things deeper, to not be discouraged by what appears on the surface, or be defeated by the challenges of life, but to look at what it may become if you let yourself see possibilities.

folded parchment copyEspecially once I had responsibility for a large Family Service Department, when I was troubled, stressed, or stymied or when everything seemed to be going to pieces in life or at work, I would take it off the bulletin board and reread it. Depending on my state of mind one line or another would be just the advice I needed. Then, I would thumb tack it back up on the board until the next time.

framed letter copyBy 1987, when I finished my MSW, my poor parchment had sticky layers of old, yellowed, tape on the corners and was punched through with holes. For my graduation, I commissioned an artist friend, Janet Greabell, to recreate it and frame it as graduation present for a friend who admired it and who was graduating with me. However, unknown to me, my husband, Doug, had Janet do a duplicate, so I could receive the same gift. The newly elegant framed version hung in my office in Syracuse until I left for a job here in North Carolina in 2007.

Once it was in a frame, it was a little harder to take off the wall, but it has always comforted and inspired me. I hope it will you,,,I have added an emphasis in blue of my favorite “lesson” from the dear monk and inserted one my mind always adds in parenthesis. Fra Giovanni says:

church windows copy“There is nothing I can give you that you do not already have, but there is 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 our future which is not hidden in this present moment…Take peace.

heaven and hell copyThe gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it but within reach is joy. (Reach!) There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see it, and to see it 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, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

harbor sunset copyEverything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, the angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an over-shadowing presence.

Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, contain diviner gifts.

And so at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.”           Fra Giovanni

With gratitude to the good brother for all the wisdom of his words, I echo them in prayers for you that you do search and reach and seek and see, and take…peace.

(For my data junkie friends: Born in 1433, Giovanni Gioconda was originally a Dominican Friar, but later joined the Franciscan order and was an architect and archeologist and classic revivalist.)



About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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22 Responses to Take Peace – A Lesson from Fra Giovanni

  1. Beautiful, Jo. I saw a call to self-efficacy in this. No sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the gifts of life or for things to sort out and fall into our laps. I believe if we create beauty and love and kindness, it will naturally surround us and carry us through the hard times 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks, Diana. I agree…I think that is why I “loved” that parchment almost to oblivion! 🙂 It was always a good reminder to look for (and create) the gifts we desire and want to share. Jo

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Lisa Orchard says:

    Interesting post! Thanks for sharing! I love to learn about things from this time period. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thejuicenut says:

    Beautiful, I have seen his writings before, always inspirational. Thank you ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Little Voice says:

    Jo, what a deep and thoughtful post. Requires me to ponder my motivations, my desires, the outcomes I want, and my willingness to accept. Thanks. Will reblog this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks, Margo. The good brother’s letter has been a deep factor in my life. It was comforted me and motivated me to look at things deeper and to see past impediments, to not sit and bemoan things but move forward. Jo


  5. Words to live by–thanks for sharing. I’ve never read this before, although the Prayer of St. Francis is one of my favorites. The wisdom you shared is the sort that helps us be at peace with our lives, and that’s a beautiful gift. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bernadette says:

    Joanne, thank you for sharing the special words of this Dominican monk. I can see why you have kept this missive and reread it over the years because it is a gentle reminder to look for the good in life always and to give thanks for the gifts we are given.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jo, this is a marvelous piece to share with us. Our pastor, Weldon, gave a sermon last Sunday on Silent Prayer. I think he would truly love this and i intend to share it with him. Hopefully, today will be a brighter one for you. Take care. Your friend, Clare

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thank you Clare. I feel so remiss about communicating with you. This prayer has always been a balm to my spirit. May all your dark clouds also flee away and sunshine fill your days…and Charley’s. Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo, I always check in every so often to make sure you and Doug are okay, so don’t worry, I know all is relatively well in NC. But quite hot! Hope you’re spending lots of time outdoors. I know you love that! Clare


      • joanneeddy says:

        Thanks, Clare. I have managed to come and visit Zuzu’s Barn…but haven’t commented in so long I’m embarrassed…though you have been in my thoughts. And Nessa wanted me to write Roxie about the gazebo…she thinks if we had one I might write there and stay outside more! Any way I have been thinking of you, too, my friend. Jo

        Liked by 1 person

      • This morning, I I re-read when you first took Nessa in. What a lovely animal and lucky to have been adopted by you. Don’t be embarrassed at all. I spend a lot of time visiting blogs and find I can read more if I don’t stop to comment. I always know where to find you and think of you often, too. Your friend, Clare

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        One more thanks…for understanding. Lately it feels like i am racing at top speed yet falling further and further behind barely able to even get my once a week blog done. Last week was a lighter load since Fra Giovanni did all the hard work for me…a bit of a break!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m thinking of posting once a month. I’d like to get back to writing books on a regular basis and I find all I’m writing lately are blog posts. Not good. so, Methinks I have to make some changes. I really do understand because I know the feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        I think to think about that too! I have been only doing minor editing based on the revival of my writer’s group which had disbanded for a while…but with some suggestions they have given, I want to get back to submitting to agents…which has gone by the wayside.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We both really need to get on the schtick with our books!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. kathylgoedert333 says:

    Did this letter not begin with, “You are my friend, and my love for you runs deep”?

    Also I thought I remembered that this was a letter to a female benefactress of Fra Giovanni.

    I came across this beaty when I was in high scool, at 17. I am now 57, and it still remains in my memory. Looked it up today to send to one of those friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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