It was something akin to the feeling I experienced the day I discovered the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris, which I’ve written about before. As I mounted the stairs, I thought of the many writers who had climbed them before me … the steps worn thin by the soles of a thousand shoes, searching for inspiration and a future in the written word.
As I wandered down that stretch of wooden road, I heard the footsteps of the convict who built it … the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, who walked it on their way to work and the labourers who swept it each day. Their life was so different to mine, and yet I’m sure they too had hopes and dreams, longed for love, and wished for more comfort than their life allowed. They walked ahead of me not knowing what their labours would unfold and in the process of their everyday lives, built a city that would one day be mine.
She campaigned for better working conditions and often travelled with the women to regional areas where employment opportunities were more plentiful. The stone step pictured below is one of the last remaining remnants of the stone building where Caroline worked in Goulburn, NSW. It's a reminder of one of Australia’s most outstanding women, a great humanitarian who changed the lives of over 40,000 women over 38 years. Many of those women walked across this step. I wonder how their lives and the lives of those who came after them were different because they met Caroline Chisholm.
Like ripples on a pond, the footprints of our lives are leaving a mark. I wonder about the footprints I'm leaving on the world and in the lives of those who've come across my path. How will their lives be different because of my life?
Nature teaches me how easy it is to crush beauty underfoot. To be oblivious to a tender heart, an enthusiastic idea or a cry of the soul. To be so focused and busy that I miss what's right beneath my feet. Oh how gently and consciously we need to tread.