I can't tell you how many fantastic people we've met on this dip through the south. People who are quick with a smile, greet each other politely, and who want to share the best their communities have to offer. We have been all but adopted by more strangers here that I ever imagined would have welcomed perfect strangers into their lives.
In Florida we have standing invitations to Lake Okechobee and an annual family reunion by a gushing freshwater stream. In Virginia, not only have we been hosted by friends who relocated their from the Central Coast, but we have standing invitations to stay at a lakeside cabin, take a bateaux boat ride, stop in for laundry and the rejuvenation only a guest room on a permanent foundation can provide. In Mississippi, we have a standing information to back into local driveway, plug the trailer in for recharging and refilling while relaxing in the guest room while the kids (theirs and ours) play the days away.
It's a quick and easy welcome I haven't seen many other places. And it got me thinking: why?
As we were adopted in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi I started to wonder if this willingness to offer help and rest to perfect strangers didn't have anything to do with the terrible natural disasters people down here experience too often. When a community is used to banding together to weather the storm, or recover from it, I think they learn to see each other's needs earlier that those of us who don't face these events, to offer help before they're asked, and to give everything they have - because they know their neighbor will do the same for them when the time comes.
Maybe I'm wrong.
Maybe I'm wishin'.
But something amazing is happening down here. I like it. I want to can it and bring it home so I can share this practice across the country; to share the wonderful feeling of trust and love that exists down here in the practice of welcoming friendly, inquisitive strangers with warm, safe, supportive arms.