Prayer in the Park

Yesterday my spouse and I were taking a morning walk in our neighborhood. We have the luxury of a fairly long “greenbelt” of parkway through the area, with lots of trees and grass. It’s the best thing about the neighborhood, really. It has been a saving grace for when most things have been closed due to the COVID restrictions here in California. The latest restrictions have been a rollback of places and times available to the regular citizen as the infection rate has gone up in my state. The rollback has not been met with much joy by, well, anyone, here. The months of quarantine have been long.

While we were walking, we approached a sizeable group of younger men seated in chairs on the grass, facing another man. The men were a diverse group, different skin tones and ethnic backgrounds. They fanned out underneath a large shade tree.

It became clear that this was a Bible study or church group gathering. Each person was distanced from the other, and they were outdoors, with no tent. The sky was a beautiful crisp blue.

As we passed, the man at the front of the group led them in prayer.

I caught the tail end of his prayer, and raised my hand in respect, as I might do inside a brick and mortar church during services.

“…we pray, in Jesus’ name…Amen.”

Amen, brother.

I respect the intention of getting together with God, outside the building, if it is closed to you for services. Pray with a stubborn faith.

If you can’t get in to the church, take the church outside with you.

The sight of these men together in peaceful worship gave me joy.

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Goslings and ducklings and..pitbulls, oh my.

This morning’s bike ride with two of my kids, the college grad and the middle-schooler was through what we call in our neighborhood the “Greenbelt.” It’s a maze of paths and parks through the Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood of Sacramento. There are pedestrian overpasses when there are busy streets, so generally it’s all pedestrians, bicyclists, and dogs on leashes with their humans.

Today we crossed Florin Road and traveled down to the canals that criss cross the area. We’re right next to the Sacramento River. In years gone by, the river has pushed up against the ancient levees lining it that were built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

These canals catch water and funnel it to the river.  There are trails that line the canals, chain link fences keeping humans away from the water, the swimming turtles, and the increasing population of waterfowl. 

Our ride brought us by a city of Mama Geese and their fuzzy goslings. Many of the goslings reminded me of teenagers. Awkward, not yet adapted to their rapidly growing and changing bodies.

Further down another canal, not far from my favorite neighborhood library, we passed by a few ducks who were surrounded by squirmy (and again, fuzzy) little ducklings. The ducklings are cuter than the goslings, maybe because they’re about 1/5th the size.

A few times during our bike convoy, we came upon dogs. Many dog owners will pull their dogs onto the grass so there’s no game of chicken between dog and bike. 

Not so for the multiple pitbulls we saw. Pitbulls will walk like heavily muscled bouncers. Step step. Sway sway. They will walk in the middle of the paved trail. I am not sure how much of this is the dog’s character or the character of the man walking the leashed dog. 

And it was, down to the dog, a lone male walking a pitbull every time. Said male was usually tall and somewhat awkward looking. I’m not sure the awkward bit came before or occurred because Bruce the Pitbull decided to muscle his space on the trail. 

Also notable in this time of Pandemic: none of the Pitbull ‘drivers’ wore face masks. I suppose this might be a sign of ‘living dangerously’. I like to imagine that folks who have pitbulls are rebels.I haven’t seen anything yet to challenge this assumption. 

Meanwhile, with sore derrieres (when’s the last time you took a long bike ride?), we returned home.

My middle-schooler then informed me he had ridden through a pile of dog poo. It was still coating his tires. Even after the ensuing discussion and direction from me to wipe the stuff off, I felt good after the ride. I’m thankful to live in a great neighborhood. Goslings, ducklings, humans, and…even Pitbulls. It’s a nice way to start the day. 

But I’m still wondering if the doo was Pitbull doo. I have a suspicion about that. The jury’s still out…but who else might leave a message on the trail for the rest of us?

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