This year, in lieu of greeting cards, I wrote this circular letter, which I sent to friends near and far, and which I now open to you, my reader friends. A very happy Christmas to you.
Hello from San Lorenzo Seminary and the Capuchin Franciscan novitiate. Hello from California! Hello from the heart, where I keep everything I treasure. I send you this greeting to tell you I have laid your image and likeness in my treasury to honor your sacred worth to me. In your own special way you have changed my life, increased it, directed it, given or shown it meaning. May God always help me appreciate the value of what—no, who—has been my very good fortune.
In a few years, when I make my solemn profession of the vow of poverty, I will possess nothing of my own and make sparing use of fewer things, all in the hope of enjoying everything God has provided. I do not have to wait for that day to vow to you now that I will never “possess” you or “use” you, but I will rejoice in our friendship and fellowship. Although this year I am secluded from the world and all the places I have known and have been known in, I feel connected spiritually to you. We are only separated, not estranged. And the chances are good we will come together again someday—perhaps even next year, when I return to the Northeast and settle in Boston to continue my initial formation into religious life.
I share with you these hopes for reunion because it is Advent, and the only way I know how to prepare for the coming of Christ is to prepare to meet his likeness in your soul. These days, time flows so fast, there is little cause to wait, but when I look east with my spiritual sense, time comes to a stop, and, looking for you and all my friends, I have to learn patience again. It has been seven months since I left home and traveled to a land far from everywhere to begin a year of contemplation. I have seven more months in this beautiful desert valley. I must wait for you and all my sisters and brothers in spirit. But God, for whom a thousand years is like a day, is so good. I have been led graciously to a place where a hundred days are like an hour. We will come together, and it will only be a little while! Yet it is also time enough to prepare well for our coming. Love divine is truly kind and merciful. Look east with me, my friend. Let us look together, and let us look to each other. Love the Guest is on the way.
It is not in my power to bless anyone or anything, so I pray God, whose power surpasses all, will add the blessing to these words. And surely the God of Israel, the God of Jesus and Saint Francis of Assisi, will be as generous, merciful, and loving to you as to me, and many times over what we dare to hope.