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Playground Peace

The rain has come down sideways from both directions for two days. Two days plus ten. Rain here. Blizzards in the hills. At night, when all is still, sheets of water well up and whap the windows downstairs. And the sudden beating on the roof pounds like heaven’s drum kit let loose.

We wear our coats. In layers. And forget to take them off inside. Gray. Wet. More gray. More wet.

Except at five today. When the clouds shushed. And the wind swept dry the sidewalk. And my boy pointed to the sky from his spot near the road. Pointed to the small expanse of blue straining to be seen. And shouted, “look!” And we did. And though it was but one color–blue–we inhaled it like God’s rainbow promise. And felt the hope begin to fill us.

Across the street the park sleeps. The park where slides still drip with water and puddles float above the gravel.

But we stop to play. To run our house-bound legs for a minute. Until five minutes have passed and my boy races his legs back to the car, his face twisted in tears, his sister four yards behind.

There is a joint leap into the van.  A jump to safety.  And an urgent request to leave.

But we don’t. Not yet.

There is only one child left at the park now. A boy. Younger than mine.  Kicking at a puddle. His red, rubber football forgotten beneath the slide.

My boy pats his lumpy cheek in the van–the place where the football was hurled. He sobs frustrated tears. The child in the park keeps kicking the puddle.

“I’m never going to play with that boy again,” my son sputters.

I wait. I listen.

And then I take my boy’s hand. And he slogs behind me against his will. And we pass two animated men, one belonging to the other boy. But we don’t stop at the men. We reach the boy. And I kneel as we talk in soft voices about the football and what happened. And the boy is opening his mouth to speak for himself. Bravely. When. Before I see him beside me, I hear him. The more animated of the men, now crouched as I am.

Then I can hear nothing over the sudden din.

“Did you hit this boy with your football?” The man’s voice cuts. It booms. And both boys shrink. “Because the answer better be NO!”

The park boy, already numb to a lifetime of yelling, says, “no.” The only right answer.

Then another bellow. “You say you’re sorry anyway.” At which time the unsorry boy mouths he is sorry to my boy.

There are more senseless sentences, all of them deafening in close company. Conflict watered-down, controlled, but not resolved. And then an excuse given with the shake of his head, “just so you know, my kid would never…” Then my hand is being jovially shaken a second time as we balance with our knees near the ground. And the man is giving his name. And with it, he is titling himself the chairman for the Community Watch Program for Safer Streets in town.

Appropriately the rain does not hold back. And the vision of safer streets blurs like my beaded windshield.

Because even heaven knows we cannot force peace. Cannot bribe kindness. Cannot insist on love.

Rather.

For there to be peace in our city and on our playgrounds, there’s got to be peace in our homes. But for there to be peace in our homes, there must first be peace in our hearts. And it’s impossible for a small boy with a red, rubber football or for his safer-streets father–or for any of us– to ever know peace in our hearts, if we never know the God who loves us.

Because only from Love, comes peace.

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2 Responses to “Playground Peace”

  1. Carolyn Moore says:

    I feel like I was just at the closing curtain of an unbelievably real play. The actors all knew their lines without stammering lips. Then the final word was spoken before the audience, “ONLY FROM LOVE COMES PEACE.” If only the only would be feverishly sought after.

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