An Evening in My Neighborhood (Denver)

We swung and smiled in the evening light, laughter littering the peaceful playground like the golden light peering over the elementary school and around the buildings downtown.

~~~

I live across from an elementary school, and since it is summer, my friends and I have free reign of the playground. We have enjoyed a couple evenings on the slide, monkey bars, and swings recently, sharing the child-like fun as well as our life stories.

However, I spent today alone. I slept in, my body needing the twelve hours of undisturbed rest. After waking, I consumed lunch, penned several entries and lists in my journal, and cleaned for hours upon end while listening to some of my favorite bands, FM Static and Children 18:3. Exhausted, I made an easy dinner and planned to email several friends. But because I had been inside all day, the sunshine and cooling temperatures attracted me more than the indoors and my laptop.

I decided to have some time with Jesus. Although I had been alone all day, I had necessarily cooped myself inside while cleaning and had listened to punk and alternative rock rather than praying, processing, or observing in solitude. I now desired the quiet outdoors of a Denver evening. Barefoot as usual, I set out on a walk.

After strolling down one block, I longed for more solitude, so ambled down another block. Turning right, I walked two blocks over. Through the trees and cars lining the sidewalk, I attempted to observe several groups hanging out on porches. Two were entirely composed of blacks, and another was Mexican. After noting the homogenous groups, I wondered what minority groups thought when all whites hung out together. A squirrel that was climbing someone’s car caused me to grin in the midst of my more serious thoughts. Then I returned towards home.

A block and a half up, the grassy elementary school park and its swings drew me. I perched on a swing, rocking ever so slightly, and observed my surroundings.

I noticed that the building in which my friends and I live is one large unit; up close, I usually only notice the red door and the blue doorframe of the community room and the numbers, windows, and doors of the apartments. From afar, I wondered what others thought of the Issachar Center, the unit we live in. Its architecture is similar to that of one or two other houses nearby, but does my summer home look richer than the rest of the neighborhood? I hoped not.

Children’s laughter and chatter rang from one of the smaller playgrounds behind the school, mingling with the Spanish they exchanged with their mothers. A young teenager attempted to skateboard on the pavement to my right — to the west, towards the mountains that the elementary school blocked.

The sky faded into a medium cornflower blue above my head with a lighter blue color rimming the houses and city buildings on the skyline, and thriving grass filled my immediate area.

A father and two children entered to my left, on the east side. The girl and her father played catch while the boy perched on his bike. When I asked the child later, he replied that he was having fun. Other groups of girls came and went from the play area.

Four black boys joined me on the swings. Glad that they were not shying away from me, I welcomed them, and they greeted me back. They began doing small acrobatic feats and playfully threatening to knock into each other from the swings. The oldest boy, who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen years old, introduced himself and asked my name and age.

I considered leaving to email my friends from school, but the desire to stay in the peaceful outdoors won. Being outside and observing was worthwhile, I decided. I was content.

I swung higher and listened to the boys laugh and chat, occasionally adding a comment. I smiled and laughed with them. The two oldest swung to my right, and two younger boys, aged nine and five, swung to my left. I helped to spin and push the youngest boy.

The younger boys and I chatted about our names and why we were named them. The five year old responded that he was named Ezekiel because his daddy named him that. I asked him if he knew that there is an Ezekiel in the Bible, and he said yes. The nine year old added that his name is in the Bible, too.

I explained that my name, Skye, also comes from the Bible. “It comes from Psalms. Do you know about the Psalms?” I queried. Ezekiel nodded. I continued, “My name comes from Psalm 19:1, which says ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.'”

I hung around for a few more minutes, standing on the swings like Ezekiel, before leaving. The oldest two boys had left the swing set a couple minutes after I had begun to help push Ezekiel, and I never caught the fourth boy’s name.

I left through gate by the community garden, and as I jogged back home, I heard one of the boys call across the lawn, “Bye, Skye!” I waved towards the voice and smiled to myself.

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