Friday, July 18, 2008

Meeting People

Note: Due to technical limitations (my husband's uploading the pix from San Anselmo), pictures will be posted after the daily blog goes up. Check back.

My Grayling winter wallpaper (posted on an earlier blog) has been a hit here. I'm not the only one who enjoys it when the Iditarod runs through. Have begun meeting people. Names, faces. In the morning I took a solitary walk, but by early afternoon I was dying for the company of children. And there, right around the corner, was one. She is five going on six and very excited about starting kindergarten with her best friend in the fall. At my request, she introduced me to her dog and a lovely creature we called Fluffy Wuffy who lives with her grandpa. She showed me her grandma's fish house and we counted swallows' nests. After that, she showed me her homemade swing and we both took turns propelling ourselves outward from the trunk of a birch tree. Then we were off to the store.

Even by California standards, prices in Grayling are very high. Gas runs $7.00 a gallon. Cigarettes will go up to $8.00 a pack on the 20th of this month. A box of Tic Tacs will set you back $1.45. People are worries about how high prices, especially transportation costs, are going to affect them. Out this far, you can't just ride the bus to Anchorage to save money. I was pleased to see that the store is well stocked. I can feed myself if I need to. And should I decide to clear brush from in front of the church of help plant potatoes, I will not lack sturdy gardening gloves.

At the store we met a friend. We three started walking down the north road, and that was how I met Abby M., wife of T., the pastor at the Arctic Mission. She was with her daughter Maddie and their puppy Princess. Abby studied Indian Health Care in the southwest. She worked as a nurse in Anchorage, but is now a full time mom (and librarian) to the two of her seven children who live with them here.

The Arctic Mission is the newer of the two churches in town. I looked inside this morning on my walk after I checked out St. Paul's. It is very welcoming. Meanwhile -- and remember that I had been warned -- the entrance to St. Paul's is so overgrown with wild celery that I must wait until the youth come with their clippers before we can hold services there. According to the local lore, you can predict winter snow depth by the height of the white wild celery flowers. They're up to my shoulders this year.

To get inside the church, I climbed over some building supplies, and wove a path through the brush to get in. Once inside, however, I was fully in my element. It is a beautiful little Episcopal Church, full of the fragrance of wood and wax. Beside the altar lie candles waiting to be lit. An old pipe organ sits expectantly on the left. Neatly stacked on a shelf in the rear are Prayer Books. I can feel the place waiting, holding a place for us.

Church and mission were built by a long term missionary whom I'll call Father Jim. He was an old school priest who believed his title entitled him to respect. I learned about Father Jim and others from an elder who dropped by the house this morning. He's turning 80 this year and is entitled to be reflective. We shared Episcopal Church stories. He's as full of questions about the future as I am. What does it mean when we say we're a church? I found a copy of the Anglican Digest. In it was a reflection that Hell is the ultimate personal achievement, while Heaven is letting others into your life. If that is so, Grayling is closer to heaven than many places. It is for me, because here I see so clearly so much that I don't know, so many connections that I have missed.

Meanwhile, my life on the computer is growing ever more tenuous. My Apple has the wrong ethernet card. The ladies in the office don't want me near their computers. I'm on Win 95 (by stealth) and my USB drive doesn't work. Non attachment. In today's world, non attachment means not being able to log on. The desert at 62 degrees north.

Went over and checked out the town library, open on Friday nights only during July. Once August comes, it will be open every night. I was so glad to see Janna again at the librarian's desk. We talked for well over an hour. She's wise in the ways of God. Also got some good bedtime reading.

The Grayling School is a K-12 with about 40 students. School will open the week after I leave. I'm hoping to meet some of the teachers during prep week. Tomorrow I'm going for coffee with one of the grandmothers to discuss the children's spiritual education. I'm already in love with them.

Tomorrow is also the big wedding in Anvik everyone was talking about on the way out. I'm going to see if I can hitch a ride on somebody's boat, but I won't be sad if I don't. Everything in its time. I may just be officiating at a wedding here.

Our first service will be Sunday evening at 7 p.m. I've been inviting folks to church. Never thought in my life I'd have the chance to do that. Blessings.

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