The smell of fresh river water. Amazing views of beautiful colored flowers and green life. The sound of fresh water crashing against multi sized rocks. Walkers and joggers hitting the pavement in concentrated movements of determined strive to reach a desired goal. Bike riders enjoying the cooling air as they enjoy the brisk movement of their spinning wheels. Lovers enjoying afternoon strolls and the sound of children's laughter echoing through the park. This is the sound of peaceful amazement as I was enjoying an afternoon of workout at Chattanooga's Riverfront Park with an awesome workout partner. Everything sounds perfect and looks perfect, according to what society would have you picture. So, when my workout partner and I were stopped in our tracks, as we finished enjoying a small pond and beautiful flowers, to see naturally toned physiques encased in sagging pants, galoshes with a crown of locs. From the judgemental eye, the view would seem 'out of place' from the scenery described above, but it was contradictorily perfect. 

The scene was extremely peaceful as Marcel and George, standing a few feet apart, speaking no words, cast their rods into the endless wonders of the river. My workout partner and I made our approach. Our desire was to show that even the judged by it's cover stereotypes find peace in nature..find solace in the natural art of fishing. As we approached, the two men looked curiously at two women carefully making their way across the various sized rocks in hopes of receiving permission to snap a few photos. We explained why we wanted to snap the photos and the two men were extremely welcoming and friendly about our intrusion. We asked the two is this 'where you find your peace? Your meditation?' And George, with his longer locs gathered into a low bun, galoshes over pants that sagged so low that I curiously questioned, in my mind, how he was able to keep them on, responded by saying, 'Yea, this is where I come to think. I bring my home boys out here too. We love it. We enjoy it.'

Marcel, casting his rod into the water, agreed with his friend of his enjoyment of being out amongst the water.  I could see in their peaceful silence that, for the time, any or all problems are null and void. Any reactions of defensiveness, created by the constant judgement of their outward appearance, disappeared like the rods that they gracefully cast into the deep water. The beauty of this meeting was that at this one place, there exuded many walks of life, yet we all found peace and beauty in the massiveness of this thing called nature. As I was snapping my photos, I began to realize and address my own mind of judgements. How, many times, I have judged a book by it's cover, not realizing that my reflection of the negative hindered the beauty of seeing the commonality that reside within us; the desire to be loved, take care of our families, heal from past brokenness and belong to a higher purpose greater than ourselves. The desire to find a place where dysfunction subsides and peace takes over. Many times we can't get to know or understand people because we so easily cast our societal views of them instead of humanizing them. We can't relate because, so often, we choose not to relate. We fear instead of understanding. We judge instead of exuding compassion. The same grace we expect, many times, we do not give to others. Though I may not agree with pants sagging, I realized that my bias had nothing to do with finding the beauty in the things we do have in common. Instead of focusing on what I may not like or understand, I focused on the beauty of what was...Two young men, finding peaceful moments in this madness called life.  As I view our younger generation, as these two young men, I realize that we need to put the walls down and truly get to know each other. Find the commonality that makes us see people as...people. That's growth..that's wisdom..that's Peace!

As we were headed back to our trail for our walk, Marcel and George thanked us for 'taking the time to tell our story'. And a 'Thank You' to you young men for allowing us a moment of your time and photos, we truly appreciate you.