A walk in the park

Self-Reliant Group facilitator, Laura Walton, celebrates the joys of going for a walk in a park

A walk in the park. A phrase often used when something is relatively easy, leisurely and requiring little effort. A throwaway comment at times, dismissing some activity which could have been far worse. Not a phrase used extensively except for in the last few months when it literally has been a lifeline for many.

Can you imagine what our lives would be like without our local parks? Again restricted to public areas in which to remind ourselves what friends are and what community looks like, our parks are yet again, for many of us, our real outside worlds.
Inner city life has many advantages up until the point when your liberty is abruptly halted. Then we are left with patchwork skies and last night’s takeaways underfoot and next door’s fall outs. And thankfully our local parks.

Parks were often a lifeline for us as young parents, desperate for adult company and for somewhere for all the noise of little kids to disperse to. They have been our lifeline again through lockdown, offering us space and air, free from yesterday’s cooking and today’s need of cleaning and the everyday tensions of being under someone’s feet.
And again….no more living room and garden bench pour outs, comparing and sharing intimacies with close friends. But the local park is there, always available and open to all walks of life.
Local parks are as familiar as favourite bed socks, loved and well used, if at times abused and taken for granted. They are part of our lives, our histories, our culture. They reconnect us to each other and to the rest of yesteryear and will be there as our lives change and we notice things for the first time, right under our noses when we had always been looking somewhere else.

So if we haven’t already, let’s start reconnecting with our local area through our parks especially if lockdown has meant shielding. Or if you’re aware that September will bring many changes to your family’s routine and you need to be ready. Or you want to re-engage with life gently and let your guard down and learn to take back your place in society.

Let’s go for that walk in the park…..let’s be safe but let’s re-engage with the people of our postcode, rather than the statistics. Let’s be part of the outside world, not just seeing it hurry past and let’s enjoy sharing that space, those cultures, those histories and those hopeful futures.

A Prayer…

Heavenly Father, help us to be thankful for the simple things in our lives that we often take for granted, even abuse. Thank you for our communities and our local areas and the services that people have kept going for us. Thank you for the places where we can be community and be part of a background that is dependable and available and comforting and reassuring.
We thank you for your faithfulness to us Lord, your presence with us through your Spirit and your assurance that we never walk alone. May that be a walk that builds confidence in those who have been isolated and alone. May it be a walk of wisdom and strength to those who are changing routines and making new plans. May it be a walk that blesses and restores us all.
In Jesus’s name we pray.

Find out more about Self-Reliant Groups: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/srg

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