by Sofia Segal, La Casa de Nuestra Senora.
Several months have gone by since I arrived here last July. Is it too late for me to write my first impressions? Probably, but I will give you the impressions that are still with me, the ones that have lasted.
Winslow, physically speaking, is more than three-quarters sky—big sky over a little bit of earth. There are lots of little houses—some lived in, some not. These houses start out small and grow with time, for people build their own with a lot of love and skill, and add on as time goes on.
There are lots of animals here, especially dogs. Almost everybody has one. We do, too. And there are chickens, sometimes in a coop, sometimes running around. We have a rooster neighbor that likes to visit our hens, even though they are cooped up.
The summers are hot and windy. The sheets dry on the line in half an hour and you usually have a wrestling match with them and the wind as you take them down.
The town is situated on the llano, or barren plain—red earth, small shrubs, some of them thorny, and dry grass. Near town parts of the llano are strewn with broken glass and old appliances.
But there is beauty even in those parts. Sometimes, when a piece of glass catches the sunlight, there’s a rainbow on the ground. And a small bit of moisture brings out delicate flowers that will not last but that take your breath away.
In the distance all around under the big sky are mesas and buttes. And you can see the hills and mountains near Flagstaff, a city sixty miles away. The sky is that clear!
What about the people who live here? I have never known such warmth and kindness, never felt so welcome, never known such love. Usually in a place, there is someone special like that. But a whole town?! Yes, a whole town, or close to it.
Life is not easy here. There are struggles with drugs and alcohol. And there’s not much work. People get sick. There’s lots of cancer. Suffering is a part of life, but no one takes it personally. They just keep on putting one foot in front of the other.
Christmas was amazing. Everyone was so generous and hospitable. It was like having at least eight grandparents, aunts, and uncles. There were lots of cookies, lots of visiting, lots of tamales and lots of lights. The best Christmas lights I’ve ever seen are right here in Winslow.
There are other things, too. There’s the Spanish choir with all the beautiful songs and the fun we have at rehearsals. And there are the children in the atrium (Montessori catechetical classes) who are so little and whose eyes are so big.
And there’s the faith. People don’t talk about it; they just live it. Ruth, who is recovering from surgery, and Alice, who has cancer, for example. Both of them are praying for everyone every day. And there’s a Brother Christopher (a street person), who told me that he thanks God every day for giving him another day of life.
I started to learn about Catherine’s spirituality in Combermere, and now I am blessed to see it being lived out by the people here. I hope I am learning from them.
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