A couple of months ago I would have found strangers in the street saying “Hello, are you Poppy?” rather unerving. But walking around a town, sorry, village, in a dog collar changes things. It changes how a person is seen.
I am beginning to adapt, and I now find comments like “excuse me, are you the new curate?” to be really rather lovely. The dog collar makes a difference, because rather than it bein weird that a stranger knows who I am, it’s just very lovely!
When people catch my eye and say “Oh! Are you Nathan’s wife to be?!”, it has lead to a warm and friendly conversations with people who want to know how I am, and to welcome me.
Having just moved to this town, sorry village, from a tight knit theological college and the area where I grew up, thus has made a big difference. When we arrived I think we probably knew about 10 people. But the smiles and warmness from Formby residents, including, “so you’re the new curates!” has made me begin to feel at home.
Wearing an item of clothing which clearly states both my faith and my profession has made that welcome easier because we are more noticeable! Don’t get me wrong, wear that same item of clothing in Weatherspoons and you will be stared at when you go to the loo, but that’s for another time.
So even though I think I may have met somewhere in the region on 400 new people in the last month, and it is definitely going to take some time to learn all those names, I feel very welcomed and valued. Chatting to people in church, in the pub, in the community and in the street has helped this. But so has people going out of their way to say hello to me, even though they don’t know me.
I’m quite excited about having a few years in Formby, I have to say, and I’m ready for it to keep feeling more and more like home.