A Park Mystery

July 1, 2016

Within walking distance of the yellow colonial we put an offer on is a park. It’s lush with extremely tall pines and blanketed with bronze needles over sandy earth. Our dog Brownie needed a walk - so did we - and we wanted to check out the amenities nearby.

Besides, we love parks. And we love walking. And exploring.

Walking the wide, paved trail, almost everyone we passed greeted us. Not just head nods or hi’s, but full-bodied hellos with smiles. We even heard “How’s it going?” from passer-bys. It was all a friendly mystery.

Nothing against our lovely home in Williamsburg or the many parks we have loved and frequented, but more often than not people don’t engage. They keep their heads down, eyes fixed. I’ve been guilty of it, too.

On this night, in this park, we experienced a much different vibe. People were downright friendly. Joe and I often looked at each other with strange expressions as if to say, “Where are we? The Twilight Zone?” It just wasn’t what we were used to.

We stopped at the playground for Abby to have a go on the slides and bars. A little girl ran over to us. “May I pet your dog?” she asked, smiling. We thanked her for asking, but politely declined (Brownie’s weird around strange kids sometimes and we didn’t want the little girl to get hurt). The little girl shrugged and gave Joe and I hugs instead. Joe and I were a bit dumbfounded.

Though I was always taught to smile and say hello to people, I’ve never thought of myself as friendly. If anything, I’d group me (maybe Joe too) in the socially awkward category. While our son Ethan thrives on social activity (he couldn’t really play by himself as a kid), we tend to shy away from it. And when we are social, I always feel like I’m doing it wrong - if there is a wrong way to be social. Mastering the art of being social is one mystery I'll never solve.

But, as we stroll the park, being greeted left and right, I start to think that maybe living here will help bring us out of our shells (*smile, island pun*).

“The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” Acts 28:2