My mail is becoming more interesting as the days of December unwind.  Colorful envelopes and lovely messages from far off friends are filtering in daily along with the mundane bills and voluminous catalogs.

However, there is one Christmas card I will not receive this year.  It was the one I always looked forward to arriving; the one from my friend, Andrew Greeley.

The greeting he sent me in 2007 was unusually beautiful.  A magnificent Cardinal Red card trimmed with a gold border.

That was the last one he was able to send before his tragic accident.  And also, for some unknown reason,. it was the only one I saved along with his numerous letters, which in a sense, had become a Master Class for me.  Not necessarily in writing skills, but more in educating me about people and choices and the human frailties we all share.

The message on the card was simple, but profoundly provocative.

It read:
                   But without forgiveness, there can be no peace

I'm not certain what made me put it in my desk drawer where I would see it often as I wrote checks. The words always made me stop and think and ponder on the perplexities of relationships.

This year I gave my prized possession away, not accidentally, but knowingly.  I knew I would never get it back, but felt it was important that someone who once was part of my life should have it.  Fortunately, I took a picture before putting it in the mail.  I will always be glad I thought to do that.

The gift was intended to be an olive branch of peace.  I sent it to a person who will ever remain in my heart but who has ventured far from my circle of love.  I hoped it might breach the fissure of communication.  I told myself there was no expectation that it might heal the gap, but I believed I had to try.

Did the card arrive?  I don't know.  Once upon a time I might have wondered if it had been misinterpreted or lost in the snail mail.  But as the Christmas music plays and the miracle of the day comes closer, I no longer think it is significant.  My Master Class continues, because I hope and believe Andy would have said, "The important thing is that you sent it, and you believe it."

I miss my friend's wisdom along with his clarity of vision, and will ever be grateful for the role he played in my life.  And I will always remember the last Christmas greeting he sent, because it is applicable not only to the personal issues in each of our lives, but all those of our human family in a complicated universe.

I believe of all the things my friend taught me, this was the most important.

                     But without forgiveness, there can be no peace.


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