When I heard that Launceston’s own City Park was named as one of the Top 10 Australian Parks in the Travellers’ Choice Attractions awards, I was dubious. Don’t get me wrong – I love my hometown and I’m first to espouse the caliber of its attributes.
But… Well… I just wondered…
Why Launceston City Park?
So, I took a walk. Decked in puffer jackets and beanies, Master Two and I started at the playground-end, and didn’t progress much further for a good half-hour. It’s a great playground – the kind that allows those terribly distracted mothers who are torn between watching their child and watching their electronic device to do so in relative peace of mind. The slides aren’t too fast. The steps are the right height. There’s soft-fall matting everywhere.
We continued eventually into the greater City Park district, scampering beneath a canopy of European trees, many of them centenarians, offering a leafy dapple of sunlight.
We fed the ducks. We skipped across the open-air chessboard. We played hide-and-seek in the Conservatorium with the windows like the arched window on Play School. We slurped water at the sculptural water fountain on our way to the crowning exhibit: the monkeys. You have to admit that there are few city parks that boast a colony of Macaque primates. And if you look past their flaming behinds, there is an endearing quality to these furry friends – especially the littlies.
Through the lens of a tourist (that is, someone unjaded by familiarity) I could see the selling points of Launceston’s main patch of turf. I could see why it was named the ninth-best city park in all of Australia, and the words of T. S. Eliot reverberated in my ears: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
As we trundled back to the car, shedding our jackets and buckling up, I wondered how many things there were in my life that could do with a fresh perspective. I’m sorry to say it, but there are many. And I’m sorrier still that some of them are people.
There’s this one guy who does everything in his power to ensure my happiness. He puts my electric blanket on at just the right time, he cooks up a storm when I’m sick or weary, he gives the tightest, most soul-affirming hugs you’re likely to experience and he knows just what to say to make me smile, laugh, wet myself. That’s my husband.
And sometimes life bundles us along so that we’re in such a stupor or a fizz that we forget to ruminate in the blessedness of it all. Yet that’s what God calls me to do every single day. He calls me to free myself of the shackles of routine, of same-old and familiar and boring, and allow my mind to be renewed daily.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
I tell you, it’s a fallacy that Christianity is a religious straightjacket. It’s the opposite. The relationship I have with my Maker gives me freedom beyond imagining.
As printed in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday August 5, 2013.