Parks and ReCreation
Everyone, I suppose, has a favorite park they call their own, a place for recreation and recreating. I am reminded of J.M. Barrie in the movie “Finding Neverland,” how he would walk to the park and be inspired and in turn, inspire.
To be a park, certain traits are, of course, required. There’s just something about the regularity of things, the order, that sets your mind at ease. Green green grass is the first characteristic to come to mind. A spongy clean variety is preferable. A general greenness is somehow what makes a park, a park, in fact. It means life and peacefulness, serenity. As I think this, I am tearing up the very grass with my idle fingers, peacefully though.
Sitting in the calm, I can watch the passersby, each one on their own mission, their own pathway. The verdant grass darting up about me is tinged yellow in the sunshine and almost blue in the shade. I swat at a fly that lands imperceptibly on my skin, and all at once I feel violent amidst all the pacifist nature. The next curious fly that alights is gently brushed away. In the uttermost cliché, little girls in summer sun dresses and little boys with dirt beneath their fingernails, collide their shouts and laughs in attempted harmony against the background of the whirring, orchestral tree branches. Parents push their children on the swing set, making themselves candidates to be photographed for some well-meaning family life magazine. A group of older women are dancing the hula on the lawn at a little distance. Their yellowish gray hair and arthritic ankles sway together in time to no music. A woman is tramping through the grass with her double stroller, her dog, and her cell phone. She is always here when I am here. She looks like a homebody like me, and probably grows tired of home at precisely the same hour every afternoon. A man spreads his hands out into the wind that feels chilly. He seems odd, because he is alone and tall, and now he’s touching the breeze, and now he’s turning his head to the clouds. But I realize that I do the same things; perhaps I, too, am odd. Myna birds bob about mischievously in the grass, their white tail feathers flicking up now and then when they reach down to touch their toes. I hear geese overhead. Maybe they are Hawaiian geese, the nēnē.
I am in the middle of all these people and animals and plants. They circle around me in deafening tones. They watch me as I watch them. Jack Johnson’s song “People Watching” floats through my thoughts. My thoughts feel clearer here. It is as though God were giving me a circle of rest, maybe for a moment, maybe for an hour. I have been afflicted and worn down and assailed by fear and doubts, but here I lose my sense of worry. Here I take my rest as I wait on the Lord in the midst of His creation. I do not understand all the ways of His providence, but I trust to Him to guide me when I am blind. Life can feel like a bottomless pit, even on tropical summer days, but God shows me the light brimming over the top. And then there are always days in the park. When I reach home, the stuffiness of an indoor world is almost overwhelming, but the refreshment I was given outdoors lingers at my fingertips and I can still be at peace and at home.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside waters of rest. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” ~ Psalm 23:1-3
God and His Providence
- John Flavel on the Providence of God
The Mystery of Providence (originally published in 1678) by John Flavel is an excellent guide to understanding the providence of God. John Flavel was a Puritan minister in England who experienced much...