Here I am again, processing through another soul training exercise for the ‘Good and Beautiful Life’ book. I’ve read through the required reading for our weekly Sunday School class and reflecting on what it means to ‘play’ … really ‘play’ from a God perspective.
The author, James Bryan Smith states, “Play is a spiritual exercise that can teach us about living in the kingdom of God. Many people think play is silly and not very spiritual. Play is actually very serious. By definition play involves randomness. We simply do not know how the ball will bounce or how our friend will respond in our make~believe world. Play cannot be controlled, no matter how hard we try.” He goes on to say, “Spontaneity is one of the spiritual benefits of play. We learn to let go. We relax. Let ourselves become vulnerable and open up to whatever happens.”
So, how do we use play, enter the Kingdom of God?
Smith says, “We play because our God is good. Grace is sufficient for us. God want us to be full of joy, and play is a way to experience the goodness of God and the richness of life.”
This week, I’ve been thinking about when, if or how do I ‘play’? Certainly, I take time to exercise, read, write, volunteer, etc., and some might say these activities are forms of play. But are they really a form of ‘play’ that is the catalyst specifically designed for me to really let go, relax and enjoy life as God intends?
In December 2012, I was sitting with a couple of good friends having a cup of tea discussing, pondering while our conversation landed on an idea that over the holiday’s we should have a game night on New Year’s Eve. Well, we did! And, then we decided to continue it. The group has grown, now gathers on the last Saturday of the month to play games!
Since returning from India, and for the most part, I stopped playing. I’ve realized I miss the loss art of play, playing games, the feeling of entering in spontaneous fun, enjoying a good laugh, in leaving behind the pressures of the day, the stresses of life just to enjoy, embrace the simplicity, the randomness of life!
I see that I am easily tempted, often taken captive with endless drama, the stuff that life surfaces, the downward spirial where everyday life can rapidly turn ~ feel more like a burden.
Jesus reminds me that his yoke is easy!
In pondering, a sweet memory emerges when Dave and I were in college. He was walking me back to my dorm, it happened to be a beautiful autumn morning with the scent of fall in the air (one of my favorite seasons), multi-color leaves in bloom, and then all of a sudden, spontaneously we began to play: a wrestling, the laughter, the playfulness in rolling in the leaves. Just thinking about it brings back fond memories of a simpler, less complicated season in time. I felt joy!
I’m also reminded that God instructs us to have faith like a child. In the same vein of thought, maybe God wants us to play like a child, even when we become adults. And, just like when we start to think like a child, we begin to see things from a fresh perspective, when we let ourselves play like a child, burdens become lighter, life becomes simpler. When we think and play like a child, we learn to step back and view problems, people and things from a completely different point of view. We experience joy, the yoke of Jesus!
Play helps me do that! Play is God’s idea!
So, today is the last Saturday of the month. It’s time to ‘play’.