"Play needs no purpose. That is why play can go on and on as long as the players find it meaningful. After all, we do not dance in order to get somewhere....We are so caught up in purpose that we would feel more comfortable if God shared our preoccupation with work. But God plays." Brother David Steindl-Rast
When was the last time you played? I mean full-on, no-holds-barred, playing; the kind of play that leaves you exhausted, happy and wondering why you don't play more often.
I have been pondering the lack of play in my life and how the absence of play impacts my spirituality. I suspect that Brother David (quoted above) is correct. In our relationship with God we become so focused on "doing good things" and "working hard" that we assume that our Creator is preoccupied with work (and our work). Like many of our forebearers, we often make the mistake that faithfulness can only be defined in terms that are serious, focused, and eventually, depressing.
But God plays. Our Creator creates, as the psalmist says, "for the fun of it." Humming birds, condors, emus and penguins all show God's whimsy. And there is so much variety and beauty in creation that call us to play. As Shug Avery says in The Color Purple, "It make God mad when we pass the color purple and don't notice."
This program year, we are going to begin using the Godly Play curriculum for our smallest members. This Montessori based curriculum teaches bible stories and the lessons of discipleship through play. Students get to "hold" Moses and Jesus; as they move around the desert and they are invited to wonder what God might be doing and how God might be moving in their own lives. When I think about it, I recognize this is what we are all called to do. While there is much work to do, there must also be time to play. God does not call us to spend all of our time and energy on work. God plays-and invites us to play along.