It was Sunday morning.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
Not very conversant in English, he said something that I eventually understood – he was clearing bush to make room to park a car.
‘Oh,’ I said.
The space was across from our house here at the university in Uganda.
The house itself, built on a hill, was and wasn’t complete. Mud was everywhere. In front, the danger was a steep drop. In back, the danger was a steep berm.
But this African gentleman, a stranger, decided he had nothing better to do on that Sunday than clear some bush across the dirt road from our place so that we could park a vehicle.
That got it going. We cleared more, lay down some gravel and hung a couple of swings from a Mango tree. Our kids, very young at the time, had no swing yet.
Then we cleared more and brought in shovels and pick-axes and a small crew of Ugandans hungry for work. They leveled an entire area. It was taking shape. This was now looking like a real playground.
Eventually, the university bulldozers came in, and then stone masons for a sitting area, then a welder for a giant jungle gym painted the colours of the rainbow. And then the ever-popular trampoline, a fortuitous purchase from some Americans going back home.
This was all some years ago.
Besides our own children and their expatriate friends, dozens of Ugandan children now laugh and play and forget everything but the moment here, especially on Sunday mornings after their Sunday School, all here at this park.
This, a park started one Sunday morning by a stranger who thought he’d clear some bush to park a vehicle. This is how it goes. We plan one thing; something else emerges.
If we let it.
We like to think otherwise. What are your goals? Your objectives? Your five-year-plan? You don’t have one? Surely you’ll fail. You know what they say, ‘Fail to plan; Plan to fail.’
Nonsense. The best things in my life haven’t been planned in the least. They’ve been given. As a gift. Sure, we still have to reach out and accept them and that can take some energy. But they’re still a gift. Unearned.
So don’t worry. Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will have enough worries of its own. Isn’t that what He said?
Just think about today. Just keep working the land. Work it with diligence. And then see what shape it takes on its own. See what sort of unexpected playground comes of it.