This story is by Kelly Graham Tick and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It’s a beautuful, sunny day. A day with a deep blue sky and thin, fluffy white clouds strewn across the troposphere in repeating geometrically satisfying patterns. The kind of day that lends ambition to activity and recreation, as it is warm and comfortable, not too hot, not chilly at all. One might call it the perfect temperature.
The park is busy today; a relaxed atmosphere punctuated by people walking in pairs and small groups, running, cycling, playing frisbee with friends and dogs. There are well-worn paths in the luscious green grass, where years of park-goers have trodden memories while wandering, talking, commiserating, exercising, strolling with babies, families, loved ones or alone.
One path leads to a small, well used playground surrounded by benches, spotted with parents and grandparents. Four tiny, joyful children whiz back and forth on yellow swings that hang on a bright blue frame. One small, bright eyed and bald three year old girl, called Sweetpea, excitedly buzzes around the bench where her parent is sitting, who hands her a wee red bottle. Immediately intent on turning the lid, she tries to open her new treasure. She fiddles with the lid, screwing up her face in concentration. Holding the bottle up to her ear, she gently shakes it and hears the swooshing liquid within. Her wide grin is heartbreakingly contagious.
She tucks her precious prize under her arm and skips through the woodchips to the other side of the playground and peers, interested, over at a diverse group of people meditating on yoga mats in the grass. She notices some of her favourite colours on the mats and on the clothes of the those sitting there, being so still, it makes her wonder what they’re doing. She names each colour as she spies them. Piink! She exclaims… bluwuh! Rwed! Pu…pur..pupoll!
Everyone sits cross legged with their eyes closed, hands held in perfect meditating posture, except one heavy set man in the back that can’t quite get comfortably seated on the ground. This tall, bespectacled, balding man tries many different positions with hope on his face. The last few tries changes his expression to confusion and then disappointment. The child’s focus lands on this man, and she puts down her small covet of bubbles to watch him.
Observing for a while, she begins to mimic him, smiles as he changes position, and fumbles to move her body the same way and giggles.
As the man starts to look disappointed, the girl changes expression also, looks concerned and tries to get the man’s attention.
She picks up her bubbles, successfully turns the lid off and wiggles triumphantly as she takes the wand out of the bottle. Uncoordinately she tries to blow. The first two attempts are unsuccessful. The third creates a colourful bubble as big as her head that floats in front of her face, distorting her features as it passes by. She laughs hysterically, which catches the man’s attention, who turns to look at her. Upon seeing her, his face brightens and body softens. She looks at him in the eyes as the bubble passes between them, temporarily enlarging his smirking face. She flashes a big toothy grin up at him, and then promptly twists her body into one of his awkward positions. He bursts into a deep belly laugh.
This makes her excited, so she blows another bubble, this time more confidently. He looks at his meditation group as they’re all still sitting serenely, then looks back at the child and stands up. She looks at him in awe, from his feet and waaaay up to his head, marveling in his bigness.
She begins to stomp around like a dinosaur and rawrs, and this time he mimics her. She is delighted. She glances back at her parent who is watching the fun with a smile on their face. The man notices this, waves and nods in the direction of the girl’s family, who then nods back in assent of the joyful interaction.
The small girl starts jumping and grunting like a chimpanzee. The man follows along, moving his arms in the air. She laughs with joy. Oink oink oink, she hiccups, moving her nose in a circle in front of her. He looks at the ground snorting in response. They have a gleeful time until finally, as if in unison begin to pose like a tree, which they both seem to master at the exact same time, falling into a meditative state, closing their eyes as their breathing becomes slower. Time stands still for five seconds, and when they open their eyes, they see a brilliance of colour they’ve never seen before.
Everything is brighter, more vivid and sparkling with light energy. They see a love aura around everyone, all animals, rocks, trees, ants on the ground, and streaming behind the swooshing swings, like beams of sunshine radiating out of all living and non living things.
One by one, the group of meditators stir from silence and are fascinated by the pair in their glowing mindfulness.
The facilitator of the class slowly approaches the man and child to talk to them and the girl’s kin, who has walked over also. Sweetpea jumps excitedly into her parents’ arms and hugs them tightly. They all speak for a few minutes until the facilitator shakes each of their hands and excitedly floats away.
The group begins to roll up their mats and disperse slowly in different directions.
The man waves goodbye to the little one as she is still resting in her guardians’ arms. She blows him a bubble as they part ways. He watches the two of them walk toward the edges of the park. Once they’re out of sight, he sits on his yoga mat, breathes a deep sigh and flops down onto his back. Stretching his arms above his head, his face transforms into an expression of deep understanding, love and fulfillment. He lays there until the sun goes down.
The next morning in the park, there are people walking, running, cycling, pushing strollers, throwing footballs and frisbees, and children playing in the playground. It’s another beautiful day!
As the sun climbs higher in the sky, Sweetpea skips up a pathway toward the playground, this time with both of her eager parents following along behind her. She sees the playground and breaks into a run for the last few feet. She looks around her, and eyes the group of people gathering on the grass.
Her parents spot the meditation facilitator and wander over to chat. They look toward their girl and wave for her to come join them.
Just then, the girl’s large friend appears on the path walking toward them all, beaming with joy, carrying a device that is streaming something opaque and glowing behind him. As he gets closer, the little one spots him, runs to her parents and points energetically for them to turn and look. She can barely contain her excitement! The gathered crowd turns in the direction of the commotion, collectively noticing a growing number of children and their care givers following the man, playing, whooping and clapping. The girl runs to the man in appreciation of his presence.
They amble together to the front of the crowd and look to the facilitator, who nods and offers a hand gesture to bring everyone’s attention to the pair.
The group has grown in minutes to hundreds of people: the meditators, the children, their parents, the walkers, runners, strollers, football and frisbee players, all being drawn to the boundless energy emanating from this gathering.
The man holds the small appliance above his head sending large, colourful bubbles into the air, which begin to spread throughout the congregation.
As the glowing orbs float among them, easy laughter emerges, one by one bringing joy to each person they touch.
Sweetpea, standing beside the man, begins to playfully stomp around and rawr like a dinosaur. Galumphing into the crowd, a spontaneous calling to play, spread like a wave until hundreds of people joined the enthusiasm, centering in the mindfulness of their own bodies, seeming to transform into each animal she emulated. The last pose placed her next to her parents and the man, who had been following along. She stands tall with hands above her head, recreating the connection she felt yesterday by being calm as a tree. She closes her eyes. A hush falls over the group for what feels like an eternity. The sight when she opens her eyes gives her such joy, that she loudly exclaims, HA!!!!
The crowd emerges from their meditative state, bursting into joyous laughter and hugs, many falling to the ground, crying with relief, succumbing to the power of humour, the beauty of the moment.
As the celebration continues, the man, in his newfound awareness that meditation comes in many forms, committs to collaborate with the instructor in teaching classes; which of course, Sweetpea and her parents join as well.