There are not as many people but there is so much more humanity. There is no rush hour and no traffic congestion not even on Friday afternoon at 5 o'clock. Young folks still like to rev their engines but most everyone enjoys a slower, almost gentle pace. Automobiles pass so infrequently you can hear only the cicadas.
If you want to slow down and look at the old homes, that's OK no body is in a hurry. They know why you have slowed - to take in the beauty of a prize rose bush or a well cared for garden. The old gingerbread Victorian lace may have countless layers of paint but the skill of the now long dead and unknown wood carver remains to enchant you.
You had better be careful. You could get lured into this relaxed way of living very easily.
Everything is smaller here including the churches. Little Baptist churches, a few small Presbyterian churches and a bit bigger Methodist churches are surprisingly numerous. There are not many Catholic churches in this part of the country, nor, I dare say Jewish synagogues, so we are becoming accustomed to and even enjoy the long drives down quiet country roads to where we can worship.
Last Sunday we went to Mass at Saint Margaret's in Monticello, Florida. They only have one service each weekend. The parking lot was small because the congregation was small. But everyone knew everyone else and a genuine Christian love was felt. Of course everyone knew we were the strangers and slowly, a few at a time, they came to welcome us.
Yesterday evening we drove all the way to Fulton, Mississippi to Christ the King Catholic Church. Fulton is another sleepy small town that boasts a community college. The church was at least a hundred years old and used to be a Methodist church before the Papists rescued it back in 1964. They have remodeled it a little on the inside but the stately columns are the same and the outside has changed little. The back half of the church is more like a parlor where we casually introduced ourselves to the small gathering flock. The priest, Fr. Albeen is from India and drives 50 round trip miles from Tupelo to say Mass for the handful of Catholics in Fulton. We felt so "at home" with Ed and Jan and Joan and Sean and Sandy and the worship was so very intimate that I felt a Christian familiarity with these people whom I had never before met. It was like being back in Lake Wylie and enjoying old friends. We were even invited out to Homer's Bar-Be-Cue after Mass where the majority of the congregation goes with Father Albeen every Saturday evening - just like back home. It is a wonderful feeling being included like this but that is the way of small town America.
We had better be careful.