Man at the Park-Entertaining Strangers


While at the park walking the other day, I saw a young man sitting on a bench.  The path I was taking was behind him but as I came upon him I saw him slumped over with his hands folded.  His head was down and from what I could see a serious look upon his face.  I’m not sure if he was pondering something deep or nursing a broken heart or grieving, but it was apparent he was somewhere else.

I walked the path a couple times, the second time his head was upon his folded hands, as if praying.  I wanted to reach out and say hello or say something like, I’m not sure what you are dealing with but I will pray for you.  I didn’t though.  I kept walking, I kept on.  When I was about a quarter into my third time I decided to stop and rest my own weary mind and body.  I laid under a beautiful tree and prayed to God about how thankful I was.  For this time in my life, for the love in my life, and for this beautiful fall day.

Fall day at the park

I sat up and as my gaze went to my right, I was reminded of the young man once again.  My heart began to sink a bit.  I said a prayer for him and sat a while longer.  Then I headed back to my car.  When I looked he wasn’t at the bench any longer.  He was walking the opposite way as I.  His shoulders in a slumping position and his head lowered.  I don’t know where he was headed or what was on his mind, but I felt for him. This stranger.

How many times do we just walk by and not even notice a scene like this?  How many times do rush through the door of a store or restaurant to not even see the person walking out?  All too often I find myself rushing, slowing down is part of this new life, and it’s nice.  I hope in this slower pace I will stop and notice more, feel more, help more, and actually take the inititive to interact with those I do not know.

Have you ever witnessed something like what I did today?  Or perhaps it was a father playing with his toddler and it just made you smile, did you tell the man how he brought you joy?  The elderly couple slowly making their way to their car in the parking lot, their aged bodies slowing them down, but they are full of love for one another.  The teacher that sits at her desk, while the students are quietly taking a test, her thoughts are moving to the issues at home. How about the minister’s wife that sits in the pew alone every Sunday, while her husband brings the word to his parishoners.

There are so many opportunities to interact and notice others.  Why do we hold ourselves back?  I wish I would have at least caught the young man’s eye, so to give him a smile.  Our paths will never cross again I’m sure, but he is in my prayers.  When entertaining strangers, there is reason to be afraid in this world as it is today, but should we let that stop us?
Grace is a gift,

Julie

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