A few years back, well before the pandemic came along and disrupted everyone’s life, Diana and I were spending a beautiful Sunday afternoon together in the city center of old Bologna. We were walking through the narrow streets of the oldest part of the city...the Quadrilatero. We decided to sit in Piazza Maggiore for a while to watch as the the day and people went by, eating gelato, holding hands and enjoying each other thoroughly.
As our day in Centro was coming to an end, we were making our way out of the city, crossing through beautiful Piazza Minghetti. I spotted him first. An old dog was coming through the crowds of people, making his way straight for us. Actually, it looked as if he had his sights set on Diana.
What transpired next was...
not a coincidence
nor was it an accident...
That old dog came right up to her and sat down at her feet. Of all the people on the piazza that day, he intentionally chose her. What makes this even more interesting is that we would later learn the dog was deaf and blind!
I noticed he was wearing a collar and on it was a tag with his owner’s name and cell phone number. As I shared the last of my gelato cone with him, Diana was on the phone with the dog’s owner.
The owner was frantic!
She was also in the city that day, with a group of friends enjoying drinks and conversation at a cafè on Piazza Re Enzo. The dog had been at her feet one moment and gone the next...
“He must have wandered away when I turned my head,” she told Diana.
He’d been gone for more than a half hour and she was distraught to the point of tears...
“He is old, and he is blind,” she said. “He does not hear well, and my fear was that he would be terrified and not know what was happening around him!”
“He’s OK,” Diana assured her. “We’ll hold on to him until you can come for him!”
In less than five minutes we saw the happiest person in all of Bologna crossing the piazza, tears streaming from her eyes. She thanked us again and again and again for saving her dear friend.
“Well, the truth is we didn’t really save him,” I told the woman. “He chose to save himself by coming directly to the one angel that was in the city that day...my Diana!”
As we walked out of Centro, through Porta San Mamolo and back to our car, we were talking about that poor puppy and how fortunate it was that he’d found us. It made me think about how fortunate I am to have met and fallen in love with the same incredible human being that saved that dog.
And for those of you who don’t know how we met, well, all I will say is that our meeting beneath The Big Tree in the Italian countryside on a most beautiful day in May was meant to be.. It can only be described as...
a miraculous and true act of Divine Providence
What transpired that day was...
not a coincidence
nor was it accidental...
In my way of thinking, there is no such thing as a coincidence in this life. As a matter of fact, the word coincidence itself is a mathematical term. In geometry class, we learn about coinciding angles...two angles that fit together perfectly and would not, could and do not exist in any other manner or way!
So, we’ve taken a term that originally meant...
two things that fit together perfectly
...and somehow now interpret it to mean...
something that has come to fit together accidentally
We’ve just reversed the whole concept of coincidence.
You see, I prefer to see events such as the dog coming to us in the piazza or meeting Diana on the walk I was taking through a rolling meadow, minding my own business, in a foreign country 5000 miles away from my home not as coincidence but as providence...
And it is no coincidence either that my mother imparted her faith in me moments before dying in a hospital called Divine Providence! The same hospital in which I was born!
Providence is an old-fashioned word with a timeless meaning. It describes those seemingly serendipitous happenings that bring people and events together, often in the most unexpected of ways.
Providence may be...
running into a long-lost friend and rekindling the wonderful relationship
both thought had ended
Providence may be...
an unexpected emergency that takes you somewhere
where something incredible is waiting to happen to you
Providence may be...
reaching a goal people told you was beyond your grasp
beating a disease your doctors told you was unbeatable
It may be having an encounter with a perfect stranger that ends up...
guiding you to a most necessary decision
directing you to something that will change your life
preventing you from harm
People tell stories every day about missing the flight that crashed or receiving an unexpected gift of money just as a bill they could not afford to pay came due. A very close member of my own family had a meeting scheduled in Tower II of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Amazingly and incredibly, it was canceled the evening before!
In one form or another, we just know that these events are providence...
when all the pieces of something unexplainable
come together in ways we could not have predicted or imagined
Detours, disasters, dilemmas and unexpected delights meet us at every turn in our lives...
and providence steps in when we least expect it
When the unexpected is a delightful surprise, it’s easy to be thankful and feel sure that all is going to work out well. But when trouble comes knocking, it is often hard to believe that any good can come out of whatever has detoured us or disrupted our day.
The real tests are the small irritations and frustrations, when a day goes from bad to worse and problems pile up. We can get caught up with the negativity and futility of trying to change what cannot be changed.
But never forget...we get to choose how we respond and whether we will accept the situation gracefully or not...whether to have a calm heart of trust or a panic attack.
Take a deep breath
Give yourself time to think before you react
Take care of the need you are confronted with at the moment
This is where I have learned to trust my intuition. I choose to believe that there is something much bigger and much wiser than myself working behind the scenes.
Analytical thinking is defined as...
the skill of evaluating situations by
gathering data and finding an answer
that would work in most situations
But it has been my experience that analytical thinking is limited. It will not always guide us through many of the mysteries and paradoxes through which our lives pass. I’ve learned it takes a deeper wisdom to understand them...
a wisdom that rises up within from unseen dimensions
This wisdom comes to all of us in the form of our intuition. It is the gut reaction that tells us there is something about a situation that our analytical brains cannot see...
It is the voice of the heart speaking to the mind
Trust this instinct. It is whispering to you that there is more to something than meets the eye...
Let your heart speak
Listen to your intuition
Then let your analytical mind have its turn to share its thoughts, but don’t allow it to be the only evidence you consider.
Sometimes life, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards to make any sense!
I run into so many people every day who have adopted the motto...
Let Go & Let God!
While I truly believe there is a great deal of merit in this philosophy, I also believe it is bad advice. I find it to be more often than not misinterpreted...like the definition of the word coincidence.
Letting go before you’ve done all that you can often times sets us you for disappointment, sadness and frustration. It can even tax your faith!
It is my belief that each of us is meant to work as hard as we can on every issue that confronts us... holding nothing back and giving of ourselves to the utmost, whether it is...
a goal we seek
a disease we are trying to beat
a calamity that has befallen us
Then, and only then...when we can do no more, then is the moment that we must TRUST IN THE PROCESS and BELIEVE IN THE OUTCOME. Then and only then will we see that...
the hand of Divine Providence is stretched out to us and will take over