She was lying in a bed in an upstairs room in the home of her daughter in a small town in northern
We spent three days in that home resting in quiet. We had been traveling for the previous few weeks on a spiritual pilgrimage across
What do you do at the bedside of the dying? What if the dying person is an Italian grandmother who even if you had an idea of what to say to her wouldn’t understand a word you said? As it turned out, the language barrier was no hurdle. We moved around the barrier and met heart to heart in that sacred place beneath words.
We sang. I sang with my voice. Nonna sang with her eyes. I sang an old song in Latin. Dona Nobis Pacem. Grant us peace. She sang with her eyes shining as she attentively listened. I held her hand, chilled to the touch and wrinkled. I bowed my head and asked if she’d like to pray with me, using body language to convey the meaning of my invitation. She brought her hands together in a prayerful clasp. We offered our lives to God together, heart to heart, beyond language, nationality, gender, generation. Even beyond oceans which normally divided us.
Back in my college days, I had a poster on my wall which said, He who sings prays twice. I didn’t really understand the truth behind that saying until I sang Dona Nobis Pacem with Nonna. In that old Latin song, our hearts reached out to ask for and, wonder of wonders, receive the divine gift of peace.