Saturday, August 26, 2006


Today I watched as a group of people prayed in the park. I listened for a short time before having to leave for the store. While I stood in my driveway, I said a couple of Amens, Mmm-hmms, and Yes-yes-yes's. There's so much going on in the world, so it was uplifting to see people doing it old school--good ole prayer. They prayed over the park and over our town. My family has been here 31 years; we can attest to the fact that even though this it's a quiet neighborhood where a good 50% of the families have been here since I was young, things are changing. And the park, even though it's intended for the kids, it attracts a lot of riffraff. I watched as MOTHERS sit on the bench and throw down paper as their children play. If these mom are the examples for their children, what will the neighborhood look like in some years if we don't hold onto it? So many folks work hard to leave the ghettos. But some people forget to leave their bad habits behind. It only takes a few of those forgetful people to wreak havoc on our lives. I now see kids walking around in these different colors and stuff. I want to yell, "This ain't the ghetto". The irony is that some of these kid's parents are probably paying damn good money for private school, or invested time in finding them a good magnet school to go to.

And school.... Schools... **sigh** Let's just say that folks in suburban towns pay too much money in taxes to have to send their children out of town for school because the school system is lacking. But then again, a school can only be as good as its children and children's parents want it to be. If they don't fight for it, then what?

But right now my concern is for my neighbors--most of whom I've know 31 years. They're all growing older and deserve the peace and quiet they pay for in this town. It's sad that one little, adorable park can attract such headache. I spend many mornings there swinging with Isom and exploring.

And now that Isom can walk, he's always running towards it. And I only go in when it's empty to avoid having to ask young kids not to curse and so forth; I hate having to spend fun time disciplining some bad teenagers who have the nerve to cuss grown folks out. The other week I had to scold three boys who were so arrogantly pronouncing that they were in town visiting from Atlanta. One jumped the fence that separates my house from the park after I'd yelled for him not to. **Now I'm becoming just like my mom because I'd watched for years as she asked rude children not to do that.** As the others ATTEMPTED to follow their foolish friend over the fence, I grabbed Isom and ran after them. When I caught up to them I said:

"Didn't I tell you not to jump the fence?"

The boys snickered like little punks.

I said, "What's so funny?"

In unison they said, "Nothing."

I pointed at Isom and said, "Don't you know you have to be the example for these younger kids? And you know your mother wouldn't want you acting like this."

Then I became really full. I said, trying to hold back tears:

"Don't you know that people care about you?"

I got no response from the boys. But I knew that we'd just had a spiritual moment together. And deep down I knew, I didn't hope, I knew that these boys would go through life differently.

And I don't want to paint the wrong picture because 95% of the time the park is quiet and empty (you've seen the pictures). I could go out there right now in the middle of the afternoon, it's empty. And most of the time those who are in the park are there to play ball, get on the swings and play gear, and have a fun/safe time. But slowly but surely, every so often, riffraff is beginning to flow in. And if you don't catch a problem at it's start, that problem can turn into a headache in minutes like a wildfire.

Living next to a park, I keep in contact with the local police department, and I chat with the Patrol Lieutenant about once a month. The Lieutenant informed me his problem isn't with the neighborhood kids, it's people crossing over from the city. Folks coming in from the outside. And I have to selfishly wonder, "Why my damn neighborhood?"

So pray. Pray that the children of today find opportunities that keep their minds busy. Pray that they have someone to teach them that their world is bigger than their block. Pray that the rest of us continue to have the patience to help those who want another way. Pray that we don't become so arrogant and self-absorbed that we can't help out "those people." Pray that we don't just sit around and take folks shit. Pray that we don't get so damn tired that we up-and-leave our friendly neighborhoods because of a few outsiders. Pray.

I pray for myself. I pray that my jaded days are short. I pray that I can continue to open up to people. I pray that I fear less and love more. I pray that I judge less and seek to understand more. I pray that I don't become my own worse enemy. I pray. I do pray. I do meditate. I do try to evolve. I do try to understand. I do try to love. I try to overcome all that holds me back.

And so I pray to have patience for those who are trying to better themselves, even if it doesn't appear to me that they are. I pray for patience. Patience. Because, in the end, things will be okay. And if I can walk around with a lighter heart, spirit, and mind it will make the difference--it spreads. The lightness spreads. It casts out the darkness. I just have to be willing to take that road. Everyday I must wake up and be willing to walk that road. If not? It's all just words on a screen.