Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Generous, Welcoming People of Cobar

I've been in Cobar about ten days now, and I'm finding the people of Cobar are incredibly welcoming and generous. Everywhere I go, people say hello, people ask how I'm doing, how I'm finding things. It's nice to be in a place where you can make connections so easily and immediately.

And people really go out of their way. Like last Friday, the parish priest invited me to an awards banquet for a swimming club that he belongs to called the "Yabbies". (A yabbie, I think, is a kind of a prawn found in the Darling River.) I worried that I might be sort of intruding, but as soon as I walked in, people made me feel right at home. Had some wonderful, wonderful conversations and a really great night.

Then the next day -- well, let me back up. Since the day I got here, I kept hearing about an upcoming "Relay for Life". I figured it was a 5 or 10K run for a good cause, like we'd do in the States.

Over the course of days I came to find it was actually an all-night (4pm-10am) walk at a nearby athletic field to support those who had cancer. And it seemed like pretty much everyone in the community was involved. At the Yabbies dinner the night before the event, one of the group's heads predicted the event would raise $50000-$80000. When you consider that the community of Cobar is only about 6000 people, well, you see just how generous people here are.

I went for an hour or so on Saturday night, and it was really something. Many families camped out for the night, they had events for children (including face painting -- I met some great little Spidermen and aliens), a band, lots of food and drink. People of all ages, from pre-teenager all the way to retired grandma, were out there walking, talking. And you could just feel people's hearts in the whole thing, the ways they had themselves suffered because of the reality of cancer and their desire to help stop it from hurting anyone else.

People talk about the sacred heart of Jesus. Well, maybe on Saturday night I saw little glimpse of it. A heart that has been broken and bleeds, and that is as a result altogether more lovely and abundantly generous.

Like I said, it's great people here in Cobar.

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