Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
January 5th, 2003

God’s Backyard

 
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I stood on the corner looking into
the children’s playground. At one o’clock on this chilly afternoon I found it empty after my walk in the park. Past the dry sprinklers were the two tire swings. Do I dare? I wondered looking around at the quiet empty streets around the playground.

I walked in self consciously and picked a tire swing. Dropping my crutches to the ground I tightly grabbed two of the three chains on the swing. Lowering myself down I felt my butt touch the tire and my feet lift off the ground. Cautiously I spun the tire swing , first one way then another. My braced leg stuck out straight in front of me as I leaned my head back through the chains and lay back looking up at the empty tree branches above me. The air was crisp as I lay there in silence and peace in the empty playground.

Peace

This was the most peace I’ve had in a while. My anxiety began after Thanksgiving and is only now beginning to simmer down. I decided against any vestiges of Christmas this year in my home, feeling overwhelmed by performances and obligations. My walks in the local park had gone by the wayside as well. I used to count on these for times of spiritual revitalization, but haven’t been able to seek them out recently because of a physical disability which leaves me with little energy for long walks in the park. I’ve been telling myself that God is still there and I just can’t see it. But somehow that hasn’t been enough.

Having gained confidence in my swing, I unhinged the brace, bent my knee and snuggled down into the circle of the tire. Looking out west over the expanse of the Hudson River and the brown cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades, I wondered what I must look like—a 30-year-old woman in a long brown coat, swinging in an empty children’s playground, crutches given up on the ground.

Laziness in action

I thought about God and the stillness in which God assures us God is present. As I floated in that tire swing I realized that in this stillness and in this reverie, I was letting the Spirit do its work. I realized that the sloth of the spirit may be the action of daily life. The more activities that I pack into my daily life, the more lazy I become in my spiritual life. The more I feel that I have to do, the less I listen for what God wants me to do. But when I listen to the little clues about what step is next to take; my life, my world, and my spirit seem like a better place.

I could’ve walked past the playground today. It would have made more sense actually, I was already spent from my jaunt in the park. But look at what I would have missed. I would have missed a chance to spend quiet time with God and to feel God’s love in those branches, sky water and cliffs. I would have passed up the opportunity to feel like God’s child, playing in Her backyard and cared for utterly.

 
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The Author : Elizabeth Bonwich
Elizabeth Bonwich writes from New York City.
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