Unity Park

by Phil Baker

I went running yesterday for the first time in years. I chose to go to a park near my home. I’ve passed it many times on my way to church so it seemed like a nice place to visit.

The south Nashville area I live in is very culturally diverse and it’s reflected at this park. As I jogged the trail that encircled the playgrounds and soccer fields, I saw Hispanic families, African American families, Indian families, Kurdish, Egyptian and many others. As a white male, I actually felt like the minority! In fact, now that I think about it, I was the only white person I saw.

The weird thing is that I didn’t feel out-of-place at all. There was no sense of not belonging, disenfranchisement, or being unsafe. It just felt like I was around families. And even though these families were different colors and many of them spoke different languages, they were all very much the same. Friendly competition was divided only by jersey color, not skin color. The laughter of children knows no language barrier.

“This is heaven!” I thought to myself. “A picture, a foretaste of heaven!” The sun was shining. The trees and grass were green. A cool breeze blew through everything.

I was alone at this park. I didn’t know a soul. But somehow I felt united, part of my community. Just by being there and sharing in this communal space I was part of the many cultures and families there. I was part of their day. I was a member of their family.

In heaven, we dream about being reunited with loved ones and, of course, our Heavenly Father. But I also look forward to that day to be united with all the many tribes and tongues of the world. I look forward to having no division, no borders, and no barriers (language, financial, cultural or otherwise). There will be no social media arguments, no political debates, no aggressive negotiations. I will be united to the rest of the human race in one common holy occupation – praising God!

I can’t say I “loved” running that day. But I do plan to go back to that park. I will run for my health. But what will really bring me back is seeing “my families” again.

This fairly new park has a name. But I think I will call it my “Unity Park”.