Children in every culture practice it. Adults in most cultures seem to lose their ability to practice it over time. People who work too hard have often forgotten about it. Couples who date and begin to form attachments for each other often describe themselves as “serious” for the other person – and sometimes forget the delight which brought them together in the first place. And, parents who overstress about discipline sometimes ignore it. It’s play.
It’s great to have “play dates” but even better when it spontaneously erupts on the living room floor with bellies exposed to noisy raspberries eliciting deep giggles. It’s great to have little leagues that play ball, but even better when a pickup game pops up in the backyard on a summer day; when first base is the oak tree and home base is the discarded pizza box.
Author Keith Johnstone has called adults “atrophied children” to help define and explain what he understands to be our true nature – lost to the responsibilities and pursuits of adulthood. Indeed, when Jesus holds up examples of faith, he doesn’t instruct us to be like pastors or seminary professors or responsible parents. No…he says be like children! When the prophet Zechariah speaks of God’s restoration of Jerusalem; when he describes what God’s rule will be like, the Word of the Lord says girls and boys will once again be playing in the streets. (8.5) It describes safety, security, delight and laughter. Playfullness, play, playing is a part of the Kingdom of God and why it is the Good Word for the Day!
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