Sunday 11 Dec 2016

Lessons in the Park
M Adam Roberts

I walked along the bike path, at Crest Lake Park, late one evening. I saw something. I admit it brought tears to my eyes.

Before I go on, I assure you I'm not a wimpy guy. Tears do not fill my eyes, easily. What I saw was special; something you don't see every day, something rare, and precious. I couldn't help welling up, with emotion.

I was feeling down, this particular evening. To be honest, I went to the park to pray and seek wisdom, from God. As I walked and praying, I noticed the usual patrons of the park, who are there most evenings.

People walk their dogs. Others stroll or jog. Still others read the newspaper or a book. Parents watching their children play on the swings and slides.There were elderly men and women sitting on park benches or feeding the ducks. The homeless, lying under shade trees, tried to find relief from the relentless Florida sun. Drunkards hid, in remote areas of the park, gulping a quick beer, hoping the police wouldn't roll up on them and bust them for an open container ticket.

It was another evening at the park: relaxing and peaceful. Nothing unusual was going on. Then, a gang suddenly rushed me!

I thought, for a split-second, I was under attack! The gang appeared quickly, from behind me, as if out of nowhere. I leapt off the concrete path, to avoid them. Not knowing what was happening, I readied to defend myself. As quickly as I sensed danger, I realized there was in no danger.

As the gang ran by me, laughing, I heard them yell out to me, "Excuse us, Sir," in a heavy accent. To my delight, I felt relief to see they were not a street gang from hell. They weren't a bunch of thugs, out to jump and rob me of my money. They weren't even a bunch of unruly teenagers, terrorizing the neighbourhood.They were simply, a family.

At first, I smiled and thought, "Ah! That's nice: a young family enjoying their evening together at the park." As I studied them a little closer, I realized this was no ordinary family. There was something special about them, and that's when the tears began to fill my eyes.

Leading the stampede was a young girl, riding her tricycle as fast as her little legs could pedal. On her heals, was her slightly older brother, riding his skateboard; pumping away, with all his might. They were laughing and yelling to each other. It was obvious to me that they were having a race, a close race, too.

What brought the tears to my eyes is what came next. Running right along behind them, almost stumbling over their own feet to keep up, were Mom and Dad. They were smiling from ear to ear. You could see how much they loved their children. You could tell how proud the parents were of the children. I could see it in their faces.

I could tell something else by looking at them. Mom and Dad were in-love with each other, too. As they ran, together, behind their children, I noticed something sweet and precious about this couple. They were holding hands.

The kids were making some speed. The parents struggled to keep up. Competition, though family, was a fact.

The parents stuck together, for the race. Dad didn't run ahead and leave Mom, in his dust. Nor did Mom dash ahead leaving Dad to look like an out-of-shape loser. They held hands, ran side by side, each giving strength and encouragement to the other.

I also noticed that no matter how fast their children went, Mom and Dad kept up with them. They stayed right behind them all around the lake. The parents never hindered their children. They never yelled, "Hey, kids! Slow down! You're killing us back here!" The parents hung on, and stayed right with the kids all the way through the finish line. They finished their race together, as a family.

I laughed watching the young parents collapse from near exhaustion, as they crossed the course. The kids jumped right on top of them. Still bursting with energy and wanting to play.

It was obvious Mom and Dad were not athletes in training. They were just two average parents, out for some exercise in the park with their kids. They didn't worry about how good they looked to the spectators, in the park. They didn't care about any of that; they were just ordinary people, enjoying their lives, and the blessings that gawd has given them.

I'm willing to bet, that when they arrived home, Mom probably cooked the family a delicious, home-cooked meal. Dad probably collapsed into his easy chair, slamming down a few cold beers as he recovered from the marathon he ran, with the family. After that loving dinner, I see Mom and Dad tucking the kids into bed; maybe saying a prayer with them; kissing them goodnight. As they leave their children's room, they leave a night light on, so the kids won't be afraid. How do I know all of this? I could see it in the park.

Isn't it interesting to know how we watch and watch each another? Isn't it also important to realize what we are doing or not doing, affect the lives of others, even those not related to us? What examples are we setting? What messages are we sending out into the world and the lives of others? What are others seeing in us?

I'm sure this family had no idea I was watching them as closely as I was. They have no idea that I am writing this letter about them. They are unaware of the affect their love, for each other, has on me or you.

Postscript

Una familia or one family found the secret to a life of true richness and happiness. The secret of loving each other, as ourselves, and helping each other along through the good times and the bad, until the course of life on this earth is through.

I find this lesson to be true, whether it's our biological family, our friends or even a stranger, in a park, with his or her children.We are all part of God's creation. We are all created equal. We are una familia without regard to race, religion or creed. Whether we realize it or not,we need love.We need a helping hand. Sometimes we even need someone to even take us by the hand and help us make it through the race or we fail on our own.

I went to the park that evening to pray and seek wisdom. Gawd heard my prayer, and answered me in a simple,yet mysterious way. Through the example of una familia UNA gawd showed vision and wish for humanity.

M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.

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