Wednesday mornings are my writing days. This is the day that I try to bang out a blog post from start to finish. I didn’t do that this Wednesday. What did I do instead? I researched and filled out my NCAA Tournament brackets.
Is there value in play as a spiritual practice or is that just a 21st Century American Christian way of rationalizing their addiction to entertainment and superficiality?
My life has been full of heavy thoughts and difficult situations of late. So many mornings and times throughout the day, I have things churning and churning in my mind. Plans I am trying to make and situations I am attempting to solve. I have been praying and reciting scripture but I recognized that I sometimes need to give my mind a break and just play.
Surprisingly, when you are in a difficult time, this can be easier said than done. Dallas Willard describes play as “creation of values that are not necessary.” I remember playing nightly with our kids. We created all sorts of value that wasn’t necessary and it was great. Still, in my grumpier moments and with a sense of scarcity, I would demand that our play time be limited to 10 minutes. I, apparently, am not very open to play.
Still, you may be wondering, what does this really have to do with my life with God? Play helps practice abandonment to God. Watch a kid and it is apparent that they are wired for play, it is in their very nature to play. They do not let the worries and cares of the world crush out their sense of play. Nothing is too heavy to diminish play. Willard says that, “Creation was play for God, and so when we play, we experience that same sense of creation.”
One of the appeals for me of studying spiritual formation is the chance for discipline in my life, even control. But in my control, I lose that sense of abandonment to God that play provides. So, yesterday, I put aside my troubles, I laid down my prayer list and my devotional materials and played something that I have enjoyed most of my life. I created something that was not necessary but it is valuable to me.
What is God wanting you to create or play or listen to or read that isn’t going to impress spiritual gurus but might actually draw you closer to the God, who like you, plays.