The kindness of strangers

After a long day of walking along the streets of Rome, from the Pantheon to Piazza Novona to Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, we headed to St. Peter’s Basilica under the grueling afternoon heat. Unlike the Vatican museums, there is no charge to enter the church. The queues to enter though fast-moving, are long, and can mean a wait of 30 mins plus.

As we finally reached the entrance, after queuing for half an hour, I pulled out my jacket to cover my arms and proceeded confidently, only to be stopped by the guards, pointing to my legs.

My memory hadn’t served me as well as I had thought… I remembered that bare shoulders weren’t allowed, but forgot that revealing legs above the knees also isn’t, and my shorts didn’t meet the cut (pun intended ;-p).

I looked around, hoping to find some enterprising souls selling cover-ups to uninformed tourists, but there were none, probably because they weren’t allowed inside the area.

In a corner, saw a young girl sitting in the sun, just looking at the milling crowds, with what seemed like a scarf by her side. In an uncharacteristic move, probably driven by the fact that I knew that if we went back out we would likely not make it back in (accompanied by lots of prodding by Hubby)… I walked up to her and asked if i could borrow her scarf. She was nice enough to loan it to me, and I draped it around mt waist as a sarong-skirt.

And just like that, thanks to the simple kindness of an absolute stranger, I was able to fulfil my desires of seeing the fantastic artwork in the Basilica (again), and praying in what is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites (something I had missed doing during our last visit).

We walked out and as I returned her scarf and thanked her, I realized that the friend she had been waiting for had arrived, and they had both been waiting in the sun, just for me to return. I was apologetic, but she was nonchalant about it.

Sending another heartfelt thanks and blessings her way.

And also to many others… nameless and (now) faceless… Not only did your kindness and generosity help me at the time, but has stayed with me over the years and sparked pay forwards.

And so, may the chain continue and the circle of kindness become wider and stronger…