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As I get older, I’ve begun to notice that I observe holidays and occasions with a different focus lens than the ones I used in my earlier years.

Further, it is with sadness that I take a few moments to remember my loved ones who are no longer here.

My grandfather always had a wonderful way with words.

I remember asking him if he had one wish, what would it be?

“Peace on Earth,” was his reply.

He would say these words often and with meaning.

If there was an uncomfortable pause in conversation during a stressful family moment, he would break the silence with the words…

“Peace on earth.”

After listening to disturbing news coverage, again, we would all hear him say…

“Peace on earth…”

as his own resounding amen to the state of the world, the country, mankind.

And then came the sad day, when we laid my grandfather to rest in late January 2000.

Driving back from the memorial service my heart was searching for a healing balm to take away the pain of losing him.

I did not have to search long.

Maybe it was only a coincidence.

Maybe it was because of a forgetful maintenance man.

Some might even say that it was serendipity.

Because driving by a lit up hospital during late night January, I saw his very own words emblazoned in white frothy Christmas lights all over the hospital’s front entrance…

‘Peace On Earth.’

Look up the word ‘serendipity on Wikipedia and you’ll find the following definition:

“Serendipity is when someone finds something that they weren’t expecting to find. In the simplest of words, it means a “happy accident”.

I believe in serendipity. Every now and then something seems to happen to me in the form of “a happy accident.”

Only, I know it isn’t an accident. Rather, it’s a push or a nudge from forces far greater than myself signalling that miracles do happen to those who are open to the experience.

Take for example my next story:

I remember when I was about six years old, my paternal grandparents from Cleveland were visiting us in Toronto.

One day, we took a day trip to Niagara Falls.

As I sat in the back seat of the car next to my grandmother, she taught me the song: ‘Dona Nobis Pacem,’ which in English means

‘Peace on Earth’.

After singing a few choruses with her, and after I had learned it well enough to sing by myself, my grandmother and I then sang it as a round, again and again.

It is such a beautiful song, which I love deeply, even to this day.

And so, it was during a very happy time in my life when I found myself in Rome. We had just left the Pantheon and were making our way back to the hotel.

I looked up to a balcony and saw a flag hanging from a window that brought a happy mist to my eyes.

The flag bore only one word.

‘Pacem,’

This word, of course, is Latin for Peace, or…

better known to me as:

Dona Nobis Pacem

Give us peace.

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