Voyage to Verona

Are we more willing to see kindness when we travel? I believe so, because when we travel our doppelgänger arises. We are more carefree, open, appreciative, and maybe even smile more. Yesterday I travelled from London to Verona Italy. I noticed the warm heart that strangers offered me.

The weather began shifting yesterday to cooler deeper autumn temperatures. As my nose began to get runny, I searched for tissues in my airplane seat. I couldn’t find any, and therefore sitting next to the window I just accepted my fate. The woman next to me saw my struggle, and offered to take several tissues from her new pack. We hadn’t spoken the entire flight, but she was compassionate enough to feel my pain.

Eventually I ended up in Verona. After dropping my bags at the hotel, I went straight to the house of Juliet. Since the 1200s this was the home to the Del Cappello family, which is where the name Capuleti derives. People have pilgrimaged here since the 1800s, including Charles Dickens. My pilgrimage brought me here. I entered the museum and took my turn taking selfies on the balcony. You had to wait in line to have your solo time on the balcony. Some had friends taking photos outside of the home, looking up at the balcony. Other people had friends taking photos of them from the home itself with both cell phones and dslr cameras. Selfies were an added bonus to the numerous other photos people had taken. Once again, I accepted my fate that selfies would have to do. As I was taking a selfie, from a further part in the Capulet home, a tourist asked if I wanted my picture taken on the balcony again. I agreed because she offered. She waited with me in line so she could take photos. I know English and Italian weren’t her primary language, therefore my communication with her was limited. She not only took several photos but tried to take them from the most flattering angles, and asked if it was okay.

Over the years, people have written left letters to Juliet seeking advice. She has become a mythological saint for the romantic. A group of women have formed to answer these letters, known as the Juliet Club. Now you can even choose to email Juliet, and expect a response back in the near future. At the museum, computer stations are available to write emails to Juliet. I took the time to pour out my heart, we will see what arises when the club members write back.

Later, I walked into a tiny church that once was a convent. I was moved by the simplistic beauty of the church. It was one of the first churches I saw that had the image of the crucifixion on the side of the church versus being centered. The statues that graced the front were either of Mary, St. Rita, or the Holy Family. The feminine aspect of the divine filled the church. As I prayed, momentary tears arose. When leaving the church, the priest who had observed my tears offered a kind comforting smile as I exited.

These experiences involved the smallest acts of kindness from strangers, but they were memorable. They are things we would do for our friends, coworkers, or family without thinking. Yet, we withhold offering these acts to people we do not know. Why? Do we lose anything when we give tiny moments to strangers? None of these opportunities involved money or a vast amount of time. They were small, but the impact of these acts will continue to reside with me throughout the week.

Thank you to those who have helped. Think how you can offer something to a stranger this week, even if it is simply a consoling smile.

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