Here I am in Ripley, Mississippi. I have gone running every morning since I've arrived. Nice, almost cool, very humid, morning air. No shoulders on the roads. School buses around since school started this week. Wonderfully friendly neighbors. Kate and I are headed out swimming this afternoon with Miss Ruth at her daughter's house. We've been invited to dinner tomorrow night with Miss Janet. I just met Mr. Roger, a neighbor down the block. He has very limited sight, but walks around the block seven times every morning for his exercise. We see him, actually, as, when we are here, we typically keep the front door open. People know when we are here and we get frequent visitors. Some of my favorites are two boys from down the street--Michael and Bryan. They ride their bikes every day after school and come by to see if we have any Coke or goodies for them. Typically we don't, but they like to come and tell us the happenings from school anyway. I'm working on remembering names and connections and stories. If there is anything that has been important in these first days, that has been it--relationships. I don't yet have a full-time job, an official "missioning card," but I don't think that is what is important necessarily. In Baptism, and in a specific way as a Sister of St. Joseph, I am missioned to be Jesus for every person I meet, wherever and however that might be. In the book I am reading for some spiritual/educational reading, one section is all about Jesus and the centrality of relationships. Our Carondelet CSJ Acts of Chapter constantly remind us of the communion of unifying love tying together all in the "web of life."
That being said, I spent the last two days in my car traveling from little town to little town dressed in my professional finest turning in applications, getting my drivers license and being fingerprinted. All of those things needed to complete the job application packets (not to mention get a membership card at the movie store and the library). I decided not just to mail things in, but to go in person, introduce myself, make small talk with as many people as I could on my way in and out of the offices. People were just lovely. Actually, I think my favorite interactions yesterday were at two of the local grocery stores. I had found this great sounding recipe that I wanted to make for supper, but I needed pine nuts and fresh basil. Four people who tried to help me had never heard of pine nuts before, didn't know where to look. I assured them it wasn't a big deal, but they insisted on my staying right there while they went to find someone who might know. They smiled and laughed and said they were learning something new. The fifth man at the second store knew what I was talking about enough to tell me that they didn't carry any. No basil either. The fifth man said that he, too, loved pesto and the manager wrote all of the things for which I was looking down so that maybe they might carry it in the future. I used garlic, tomatoes, and some parmesan instead and we had a lovely dinner. What great people. So, I've got a few errands to run this morning. I want to check on recycling possibilities. But, really what I want to do, is see whom I'll meet, what stories I'll hear, what relationships will happen as I walk this day.