Take Joy!

Take Joy As awful as this may sound, I’ve had to stop watching the coverage of the Sandy Hook School shootings. It’s not because of a “that’s them not me attitude.” It’s just that at a certain point my heart could no longer bear the loss and horror of it all. I could feel myself sinking into darkness as I immersed myself in the unfolding details.

In my gloom, I remembered A Letter to a Friend by Fra Giovanni. Years ago, I was so overwhelmed by its beauty I used it as a concept for a Christmas card. The premise behind the reading is that we can choose joy over despair. It’s there for the taking. I’m not suggesting we should swallow our grief. No, but after it’s run its course, we should not linger there. It serves no one to poke and prod at the details of our sorrow.

Today, the only thing many of us can do for those affected by the shootings is to pray. At some point, that may change. But for now, I believe prayers sent to heaven from joy-filled hearts is no small thing.

Below is Fra Giovanni’s letter from Christmas Eve, 1510:


I salute you!  There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much that, while I cannot give, 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 instant.  Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it yet, within our reach, is joy.  Take joy.  And so, at this Christmas, time I greet you with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

Flee away finalThe 100 year old gateway to the Maplewood Cemetery in New Lenox, IL. Allie (1)The little angel from my illustration in the flesh. Allie with the laughing eyes.

All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Take Joy!

  1. Like you, I’m heartbroken about the shootings. The human psyche can only take so much. For myself, I now have to focus on the healing of Newtown. I believe prayer is more powerful than our minds are able to grasp.


  2. Sue, everything about this post is absolutely beautiful! I also find comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who’s choosing not to watch the news coverage on this unthinkable tragedy. Thank you for the “ah-ha” moment – you helped me see that I’m not living in denial by tuning-out this tragedy. We’re choosing to live in Joy (through Prayer) instead of despair!


    • Thanks, Linda. Yesterday my 25 year old son announced that he is no longer watching the coverage. He too is overwhelmed. He had no knowledge of my post when he told me this. I guess our hearts can only bare so much.


  3. Hi Sue! I too can no longer watch this tragedy. I was overwhelmed by sadness and trying to figure out the evil that lurks in all of this. My heart aches for the families and prayer is where I find peace. Our God is the almighty Comforter, Prince of Peace, and only in Him could I and can I still find peace in all of this. His joy is the blessing that has gotten me through every difficult time in my life.
    Psalm 30:11
    You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
    I pray that each family and all of us so saddened by this tragedy seek out His joy. That alone can heal a hurting nation. God Bless! Jane


    • Funny, when the details were first unfolding about the tragedy I was outraged at Adam. I think that is natural. Now all I feel for that poor kid is compassion. He was not a well person. Along with all the victims and their families I include him in my prayers.


  4. Beautiful image, Sue. It has a lovely, Victorian feel. And I agree that it helps no one to obsess over the tragedy. Yes, this world is a damaged, shattered place, but it’s also filled with beauty, and Allie’s laughing eyes should give us all hope. Take care, Janet.


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