A Day in the Park

Remembering a special day with special people.

One hot, sunny day a couple of summers ago, I was part of a group that visited a local park. I was one of about six adults and we took about 20 young people, aged between 7 and 11 with us.

We travelled from our home,(a local authority housing estate), about nine miles until we got to the park. As soon as we arrived, there was a stampede towards the lake and we adults followed hurriedly, chasing after and shouting warnings to, "stay away from the edge!" and, "don't chase the ducks!" This last to one young friend who took one look at the wildlife, declared that he loved 'gooses' and went charging off after some. Once we'd managed to round up the group again we set off for the open-air paddling pool and a pleasant morning's playing in the water.

As the sun began to reach it's zenith, we decided to get the gang covered up and go and eat our packed lunches in another part of the park.

Once lunch was over we unveiled our newest acquisition, a parachute. As we began to stretch it out over the grass we realized that we were attracting attention from other park users. As our games got under way, children from all over came running up, asking if they could join in.

"Our" kids were so great! They welcomed and happily made room for any and every child who wanted to join us. They quickly became a large and happy group who took turns, shared and just plain enjoyed themselves.

I have seldom been part of such generosity and I felt proud to part of all this.

It was all the more gratifying because our young friends came from a background which could be considered to be disadvantaged. They certainly don't have the same choices as children born into more middle-class families. It's possible that some of the children who ran over to join us may have hesitated if they'd realized where we were from as our village still has to fight the prejudice of being associated with similar council estates.

This afternoon though no such disadvantage was evident. Everyone was happy, everyone was included and no one was made to feel inferior or left out.

For me, this was a real glimpse of the kingdom that is 'now' and 'not yet.' There was joy in playing; belonging to this temporary group where all were welcome and everyone was a friend. I am so glad that I have the memory of this day. I am sure it would never happen in the same way again, but it doesn't need to. Just being a part of this one time is enough.


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