Focus – Dancing in Pigeon Park
by Amanda Reardon, Captain
Pigeon Park is, I guess you’d have to say, pretty ugly. I’m not even sure how it qualifies as a park. It’s a couple of benches and a few trees on a triangle-shaped cement plot on a street corner in Vancouver, B.C. It backs up against a commercial brick wall, which is covered with graffiti. And––there aren’t children there, as there are at most parks. The “park” is full of men and women, most of whom are either drunk or high. And yet––I saw the glory of God there.
Not long ago, I was in Vancouver for the Aggressive Christianity Conference. One of the options for the Saturday afternoon activity was to conduct an open air at Pigeon Park. (For those of you who are too young, or haven’t been with the Army for more than a couple of decades, “open airs” are outdoor street services. The Army used to do them regularly.) Having grown up loving our weekly open airs in Hollywood, California, I didn’t hesitate to join the crowd going to Pigeon Park.
It was a typical open air––singing, testimonies, etc. But something magical happened. Scratch that. Something Godly happened. We were singing “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” and a woman, who I believe was drunk, began dancing. Oh, she seemed so happy! She kept looking at me, smiling; she was having a great time. I know, I know, she wasn’t in her right mind. But her joy was infectious. I began to realize that I was having a great time, too. I became aware of the sun streaming down between the trees. I looked to my left and saw a man in his wheelchair reveling in the fun. And then I noticed Dan, who was leading the song and playing the guitar. He looked as though he were glowing. He radiated the love and joy of Jesus. And I thought, “I feel like I’m in heaven, praising Jesus with the saints.” It is recorded in the annals of my mind as a moment of sheer joy.
Oh, but it got better. The woman who was dancing had a gorgeous, long-stemmed red rose with her. She danced my way, and gave the rose to me. Feeling full of utter mirth, the rose seemed the most beautiful gift I could have ever received. I thought, “I would rather receive this one rose than fists full of gold and jewels.”
God was in Pigeon Park.
I guess I went to the open air with the goal of talking with someone one-on-one about Jesus, possibly even leading them to salvation. That didn’t happen. As far as I could tell, no one got saved. And yet, the afternoon was filled with God’s grace. We were having a party, celebrating Jesus. And even those who probably did not know Jesus personally were enjoying the celebration. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus wants to see all of the people who were in the park get saved. But maybe he was pleased that, at the very least, they felt his presence there. They enjoyed singing about him. Maybe for that one afternoon, it was enough that we brought a bit of happiness to the people of Pigeon Park.
In I Chronicles 16, King David had a party celebrating the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem. He sang a lengthy psalm of thanksgiving, in which he said: “…ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (v. 29)
I sincerely felt that God was glorified in Pigeon Park. And surprisingly, the “splendor of his holiness” could be found on that dirty street corner. Now if that’s true, imagine where else his splendor can be found! How often do I pass by expressions of the glory of God or the splendor of his holiness without even noticing?
I have found that when I make a conscious effort to look for evidence of the glory of God and the splendor of his holiness, life sparkles. I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to remaining alert to evidence of him all around me. But, even if it starts out as something of a discipline, it is a happy discipline.
Reader, you have indulged me in this personal reflection. But I have shared it with you for a purpose. If you have forgotten to look for the amazing stamp of God’s presence in the world, seek to find it today. Look for it on the face of a fellow believer. Hear it in a song of worship. Observe it through his spectacular creation. Or, just go to a dirty street corner and sing a song!