I’m frugal by nature. I only spend money on practical things. My house is quite bare—at least some people would describe it that way—not a single knickknack. So I was surprised when I felt drawn to enter the souvenir shop full of the usual touristy things.
Every year my husband and I go from our home in California to Assisi, Italy, to lead a two-week yoga and meditation retreat at Ananda’s community there. We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and many of the same people come every time. By now we have become quite close.
This year the theme was yoga teachings in the Bible. It had been particularly inspiring. We were staying an extra week to relax and enjoy Assisi—to me one of the most spiritual places in the world, made holy by St. Francis and St. Clare.
The uplifting influence of the retreat was still very much with me, so even though the impulse to enter the shop was quite out of character, I felt filled with grace and followed the flow without question.
Glancing around the store, I was drawn to a display of hanging chimes apparently designed for children. Each one included a decorative wooden piece with a painting of an animal. I felt drawn to the one with two kittens, one black and one white. When my hand touched it, an inner voice said, “Buy this for Beate.”
Beate was the four-year-old daughter of a woman I used to work with at Ananda Village. After Beate was born, I had little contact with her mother and saw Beate only occasionally. I liked both of them, but there was no special connection between us.
In that uplifted state, though, I didn’t question. I bought the chime.
When Christmas came, I gift-wrapped the chimes and put the package in the mailroom, addressed to Beate with a little note from me: “I saw this in Assisi and thought you might like it.”
A week later I happened to see her mother. “Beate had two kittens: one black and one white,” her mother told me. “A few months ago, both of them died. It made her so sad. But when your gift came, Beate felt that someone had remembered her kittens, and knew how much they meant to her. She was deeply touched and comforted.”