The Park Bench-Inspiration from Strangers


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I visited one of my favorite neighborhood parks one morning this week to take my dogs for a little walk. I also needed the fresh air and exercise as well. One of the perks of being a dog owner is that you tend to attract other dog owners or people who also love pets.

I was feeling a little down initially when we began our walk until a group of 4 small children ran over to us and after asking if they could pet my dogs began laughing and petting the dogs. The children's smiles and giggles immediately lifted my mood and I made eye contact with their mothers to let them know it was okay and in control. It was amazing how this brief interaction with my dogs brought these children so much joy.

We walked on about a quarter of a mile and stopped to rest on a bench. A woman walking by stopped to comment on how beautiful CJ and Annaka were and we began swapping dog stories. I learned that she is a widow and that her dogs provide her great comfort in her life. Quite simply as she put it, she could not imagine her life without her dogs and they are good company to her. I also discovered that Jan worked at a thrift store I like to frequent so we had that in common as well. After about a half an hour of chatting, she invited me to church. I plan to take her up on that invitation real soon.

As Jan left, Ron was walking by and I commented that he had surely hit the 3 mile mark based on his walking path. He stopped and told me he aims to walk 5-6 miles a day. Ron took a seat on the bench and shared that he had been sober for 27 years and was free from his meth and drug addiction. He also asked if he could pray for me.

We got up and walked a bit and he shared how God truly worked a miracle in his life. He also invited me to his church.

Jan and Ron may never know the depth of gratitude in my heart for their testimonies, invitations to fellowship and for just taking the time to uplift a stranger in a park. You see, I truly believe that there is inspiration all around us if we choose to find it and that an ordinary person is on an extraordinary journey.

We get so wrapped up in work and stress and the world around us that we forget to connect with others who may also need an ear to listen. Jan and Ron didn't care that I was Black, or what my political affiliation was or what my religious beliefs may have been....they simply stopped to talk and engage. We had delightful conversations on a beautiful day.

So if you are reading this, I encourage you to not only get outside and partake in the beauty of nature but to speak a kind word to a stranger. You never know what wisdom and encouragement is headed your way.

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