I took Savannah for a walk last week at a park near our house. I wanted a change from our usual Sunnyvale Bay Trail excursion, so I pulled into the Fair Oaks Park parking lot just as a group of Hispanic men were finishing their pick-up soccer game. It was a warm, sunny afternoon and I let Savannah lead me onto the sidewalk toward the grassy area where the men were resting after their game. She pulled me toward them, but I decided to head across toward the other side of the park. I knew she just wanted to say “Hi”, but approaching a group of seven or eight men by myself made me a little nervous, even in broad daylight. We wandered slowly over to the picnic area and the basketball courts. Another group of young Caucasian and Asian men had just finished a noisy basketball game, while an elderly African-American gentleman read quietly at a picnic table. I looked over at the playground and saw a young Latina woman with two small children and a friend. The children were playing on the playground while the women sat and talked. Savannah and I wove our way through the picnic tables, past the apartment with the barking dog, through the no longer spraying summer fountain, and came upon the two young women checking their phones and calling to the children. I smiled at one of the girls as I walked passed her with Savannah, but didn’t stop to talk. A few minutes later, as Savannah and I continued our walk around the circumference of the park, I saw the girls leave the park and head down the street toward the Chavez Supermarket and the 7-11 about a half mile away.
I led Savannah back through the picnic area where the African-American man was still reading, past the apartment with the barking dog, toward the tree in front of the basketball court where a squirrel chattered noisily at us from the safety of the upper branches. Savannah stopped briefly to peer up at the squirrel, but she is no tree climber and we continued our walk. We headed through the no longer spraying summer fountain again and passed by the activity center where I heard a group of teenagers inside talking, laughing and playing games. I saw a young Caucasian man standing outside the center with his art pad on top of the brick wall. I watched as he used one finger to carefully smudge the details of his picture.
I let Savannah lead me back toward the men who had taken a break from their soccer game. She walked happily up to them with her tail wagging. One of them turned to me and smiled, pointing at his teammate he said, “It’s him. He has peanuts.” He must have thought that was the reason why Savannah had wandered over toward their group. I responded, “I just thought she liked you guys.” I talked with one of the men for a little bit. He told me they play pick-up soccer at the park in the afternoons and evenings. I talked to him a little bit about Buddhism and gave him one of my Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo cards. He said he knew about Buddhism, but he hadn’t heard of my particular type of Buddhism. I started walking toward the car when another man came down from the bleachers to ask me what kind of dog Savannah was. We spoke briefly for a few minutes and I shared Buddhism with him as well.
When I came home, I reflected on all the people I had seen and encountered at the park that afternoon. I thought how wonderful it was on a bright, sunny, peaceful afternoon to see so many different ethnic and racial groups enjoying themselves at a small, neighborhood park in Sunnyvale. To me, this is an incredible example of what world peace looks like, and I believe the fact that all these different groups of people were able to find some peace and happiness together on a bright, sunny afternoon bodes well for the future of humanity.