Tag Archives: noticing

Puccini’s hometown

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), was born in Lucca and spent a substantial part of his life there.

Statue of Giacomo Puccini in front of the Puccini Museum

In a joint venture between art students and professional artists, twelve store shutters were painted with the women of Puccini’s operas.


Unfortunately, the exhibit was not meant to be permanent and some of the shutters have been painted over, but here are the ones I noticed as I walked the streets of Lucca.

Falling off a ladder

“I don’t know where you came from,” the woman said, with wonder in her voice, as if I were an apparition.

“I was just on my walk,” I explained. I walk by her house most days, although I had never paid particular attention to it. Our neighborhood has a few basic house styles, so none really stands out.

What I noticed that day, though, was a woman in front of the house, falling off a ladder.

I ran to her, and she seemed stunned. “I hit my head on that thing,” she said, pointing to the meter. She had also scratched her face and banged her knee.

“Do you want me to call an ambulance?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “I’ll be fine,” but as she tried to stand, we both could see she was not fine.

“Don’t move,” I instructed her, and I got a chair off the porch and then helped her into it.

“I don’t know where you came from,” the woman said again, and I wondered if she had a concussion.

I asked if anyone else was home and then got her daughter to get ice packs.

The woman had been stringing Christmas lights from the eave, and the ladder had sunk into the wet ground and toppled.

She would not agree to medical treatment, although she did call a neighbor who is a medical assistant.

I left her, but her words, “I don’t know where you came from,” have stayed with me. How often does someone show up just when we need help? How often does a stranger just happen to be in the right place at the right time?


Earlier that day in prayer, I had asked how I am to prepare for Christmas.

Advent is a time to stay awake (Matthew 24:42) and be vigilant (Luke 21:36).

The woman falling off the ladder reminded me of the story of the young executive driving his new sports car—perhaps a bit too fast—down a neighborhood street when a brick hits the side of his car. He slams on the brakes, jumps out and starts yelling at the kid who threw the brick. “Why did you do that?” he shouts.

“I am sorry, Mister,” the boy says, “but no one would stop when I was calling for help.”

The boy then points toward some parked cars and explains that his brother had rolled off the curb and fallen out of his wheelchair. “He is too heavy for me to lift.”

The young executive went over to the injured brother, lifted him up and got him resettled in his wheelchair. The boys thanked this stranger for his help and headed toward home.   

The executive returned to his sports car and saw the big dent from the brick. He decided not to fix it though and left it as a reminder not to move so fast through life that someone has to throw a brick to get his attention.

Was this woman falling off a ladder my brick?