Recently, I was walking in Nice, France, the acclaimed French Riviera. It was all I imagined…the fantasy of open air markets with fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables and artists on the sidewalks painting. This beautiful place was once home of the famous artist, Henry Matisse. Shops and galleries lined the streets…the surrounding architecture a remembrance of eras gone by. Tourist were snapping photos, locals were buying their baguettes…the scene was so easy to be swept up in. As I walked the cobblestone sidewalks, some homeless people sat on the curb dressed in drab colors that blended into the tones of the walkway barely noticeable against the colors of the city around them.
In negotiating the crowds of people, the sights and sounds it is easy for a passer-by to overlook, or avoid the destitute people looking forlorn. Suddenly I noticed a little boy on the sidewalk and next to him a young girl which I had to stop and look twice to determine if this girl was his mother or his sister. They had a dirty paper cup in front of them. These urchins were not begging outwardly. I was following a friend through the streets and he did not see them. I walked past the children but I had to stop. I shouted to my friend to wait for me. I slipped my hand into my purse and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. I walked back, knelt down and handed it to the eldest child. I held her hands as I gave her the money, I stroked her hair to let her know someone cared and to give her a sign that there was compassion in the world for her. She muttered to me in French. As I touched her, I felt so connected with this person as our two different worlds collided. I vividly remember the softness and warmth of her small hands and the fineness of her hair. I wanted to kiss her forehead. All of this occurred in mere moments.
I continued to where I was going and wondered how so many people could not see these children who were aged not by years but by experience.
I ask you, what does it take to get you to stop and reach out to someone? Now I am not talking about walking around handing out money to every impoverished person. Every day there are people in our lives that need a sign of compassion and caring. A smile is free to give and can make all the difference in someone’s day.
Take a look at the stop signs you are missing…they are signals where you can take that moment to make a difference in someone’s day, even their life. And you will see…it will make a difference in yours as well.