On the first full day here, even though I was up at 4 am, I felt rather driven to explore Sydney while we have a few days free. Six of us took the train into the city center and spent the better part of the late morning traipsing around the botanical gardens, the Opera House, and then over the bridge. It was a spectacular day... blue sky, quite warm, though with a good stiff breeze blowing. Several times during the day, I just had to pinch myself that I'm actually here... seeing the famous Opera House up close after seeing it umpteen times in photos and on TV. Sydney is a gorgeous city, and I'm delighted that we'll have more time to explore it over the next several months. (see pictures below)
The twelve of us have nearly all arrived... one more to go, provided that his Visa issues are cleared. It's a great group so far-- diverse, friendly, easy-going, and very gifted. I think we're going to enjoy one anothers' company as much as we will also learn from one another.
A group of us are planning to gather in the middle of the night to watch the inauguration... and not just the guys from the States! This new president has really swept up enthusiasm and hope for change across the globe. It feels fairly unprecedented to me, and while I want to be somewhat cautious and measured in my own expectations, it is hard not to be moved by the soaring and exuberant sentiments being expressed by people all over.
We begin our program tomorrow, and then in a few days will head to a Jesuit villa house a few hours away to begin what we call faith sharing... getting to know one another and a more substantive level and building community. I feel excited and ready to begin...