A Walk in the Park

Some days it’s the simple things that mean the most. It’s how we can get caught up listening to a bird singing or watching a rabbit in our back yard and suddenly forget everything else.

So it was with me when I took my daughter to a neighborhood park this week. It’s nearby and we’ve been there several times to fly kites, ride bikes or let her play on the playground. And my daughter is always excited to go. With her outgoing personality, she inevitably makes a new friend playing in the sandbox or on the slides and quickly they’re thick as thieves, inventing new games.

I wasn’t so anxious. Rain had been hitting us off and on throughout the day. It was easy to envision more weather blowing in or soggy grass. Sometimes it’s easier to not venture out than to take a gamble. Plus, I still had unfinished work, which I’m bad about not taking a break from.

IMG_3571A little to my surprise, we arrived and the ground was not wet at all. Even the sand in the volleyball area was dry and quickly my daughter was immersed with some other kids, making up their own game. Smaller children hung to the edges, one spread eagle making a sand angel, another burying her feet.

At the heart of the park stands a gazebo. A band was playing in front it and families and friends were spread out on their blankets and lawn chairs. Frisbees were thrown and eager dogs were ready to catch.

For all intents and purposes it could have simply been another day, but it wasn’t. This was an intentional gathering from members of six different community churches. Large tables were set out with hundreds of pounds of BBQ along with side dishes from members of all congregations. Everyone coming together for a communal meal under the partial shade of billowing clouds.

IMG_3602Each church offered up their own musicians to perform. Some paced while tuning up their banjos, others strummed their electric guitars. Off to one side a group of bagpipers gathered around a man with a massive black drum strapped to his chest. Music drifted across the lawn as one act after another took the stage while people ate their sandwiches and potato salads.

A rivalry has been started with kickball teams – a carryover from the previous year. The Bible Thumpers showed up with their own tshirts, ready to take on The Heretics. It got people interacting, getting outside of their groups of friends on the lawn.

I found myself talking with parents of other children who were playing, shaking hands with friends and talking with people I hadn’t seen in a while. In fact, almost everywhere I turned I saw different people talking with each other, reaching out to meet new folks.IMG_3656

That was when I realized what a powerful thing was happening. These churches – Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Jewish and a few nondenominational – were setting aside their worries about rain, their daily work, to join together. More importantly, I felt we were setting aside our dogma and differences to celebrate the common ground.

It reminded me that sometimes it’s the simple things that can make the most difference. Sometimes things as simple as a walk in the park.

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