When we talk about a spiritual practice or of belonging to a Beloved Community, it’s not uncommon to think of stillness, reflection, time spent in silence. I mean, after all, spirituality is serious business! Does it need to be? I believe that there’s another type of spiritual practice or community. One that reminds us that the exuberance of our being is yet another expression of how we grow into the fullness of who we are.
I was reflecting back that, for me, there is one type of play that fills my soul with joy – and that’s when I’m with people. As an adult living alone and really not having many children in my life, I miss the spontaneous play that happens with children. Everything becomes fun and new, and I can let myself go and be silly – because it’s allowed with children. Singing songs or making up games to play on the spur of the moment to fill up the time while we’re waiting in line. When my heart is filled with that joy, that exuberance, the rest of my life becomes infused with this joy.
Without young children in my life, I find it harder to create or make time to play. It seems frivolous and the last thing I should be doing with my time – or it gets put off until my to-do list is done – and well, we all know what happens to that darn to do list! It just keeps growing. I am slowly coming to the realization that play needs to be a part of my spiritual life. It can’t be that thing that keeps getting put off.
Play is a part of all religions, according to Drew Leder, author of Games for the Soul. He tells us that “St. Paul proclaimed himself a ‘fool for Christ.’ Jews honor the Sabbath, that time to stop working and to take pleasure in life. Hindus say that the universe was created as ‘lila,’ divine play. … Muslim Sufis teach through jokes about Mulla Nasruddin, a laughable sage/fool. Native Americans celebrate bawdy trickster-figures. … Buddhists practice meditative games of breathing, attention, and joyful presence. Zen teachers poke fun at dogma, as in master Feng’s pronouncement: ‘The Buddha is a bullheaded jail keeper, and the Patriarchs are horse-faced old maids!’ It seemed the whole world was playing with Spirit in a thousand delightful ways.”
I am coming to understand that play allows us all to move into the exuberance of our very being. It rests at the center of our creativity, it moves in our sexuality, and it helps us live in these difficult times. It feeds our joy and our wonder, keeping our search for meaning grounded in the here and now.
As we take our break over the summer months to rejuvenate our souls and bask in the warm glow of the sun, I invite you to extend an invitation to connect with someone from this community over the summer months with the express purpose of playing together. One-on-one, or in small groups, gather, connect, be together! Aim for simple things – things like going for a walk, sitting together in the shade on a hot summer’s day, playing hopscotch at an elementary school yard, or swinging on the swings. It is times like this when you connect with others with deep belly laughs, that our oneness is revealed. It is times like this when we let go and become filled with joy.
A joy that overflows with love.