As I pull into the blazing hot parking lot at Montgomery Park. there’s a sprawling oak tree ahead with grass and shade. Cool and peaceful. Should I play harp there? I glance over my shoulder at the brightly colored playground; I can just barely see over the fence. If I can spot any children there, I’ll go. Then I see one, darting to the slide.
I wind around the outside, looking for the entrance and finally make it into a covered bench area where a young woman, nanny to two young boys, is sitting, watching them. I offer to play a song for the older one, about 5. He nods that he’d like that. As I play, I hear the Lord saying, “Strong!” so when I’m done, I tell him, “You’re strong!” Then I play for his 3-year-old brother.
Before I know it, three other children are approaching. They all want a song, too. A 7-year-old girl plops herself down on the bench opposite me and tells me she has a ukulele, a guitar, a piano and drums at home. I’m suitably impressed. As I gaze at her while I pluck the strings, I see her through God’s eyes, and say, “You are a princess!” She’s delighted with that idea, and doesn’t seem the least surprised. I play for a little 3-year-old boy, a friend of hers, and afterwards he says, “You can come to my house today. Want to come to my house?” I explain that I’m going to have to leave to go somewhere soon, but maybe some other time!
After all the songs, each one quite different from all the others, the nanny asks me to pray for her. She’s pregnant and has been told there are complications. “Sure! Hey, boys,” I look at the two with her, “want to pray with me for the baby?” The older one looks hesitant, probably hasn’t been asked to do such a thing before. The younger one puts his little hand right on her tummy. We pray, thanking God for blessing her and the baby with health in Jesus’ name.
I’m looking at my little friend who had the first song and, sensing a Holy Spirit nudge, ask him playfully, “Do you love God?” “Yes…” he says hesitantly, “about this much,” indicating about two inches with his little hands. “Oh,” I respond, “you know, He loves you THIS much!” and spread my arms wide. To my surprise, he considers that idea a moment and then he exclaims happily, “Uh, I love Him THIS MUCH!” spreading his arms wide, too.
Just then a middle-aged man with tattoos all over his arms approaches. He wants to know about this instrument I’m playing. Is it a harp? Yes. I offer him a song and he accepts. Before I begin, I turn to my new little friend and say, “Now listen. This is a song I’m hearing from God for him. It’s going to sound very different from your song,” and I play. It is different, quite different than the boy’s song, and he agrees after hearing it. But now two young adults arrive to come get me, and I introduce them to the boy. They’ve just recently returned from a BURN worship event in Winchester Cathedral. “So,” I call out, “do you two like to sing songs to God?” No hesitation. Big smiles. “Yes!” the young man addresses my new little friend. “It’s something I REALLY like to do!” As I’m packing up my harp and saying good-byes, I’m silently thanking God that, on top of all the other blessings today, these two walked up and showed this little boy that you can be a cool young grown-up and love God.
An hour in a park. God knew how best to use it. And I’m smiling all the way to the car.