I’m reading a book called, The Gift of Wonder: Creative Practices for Delighting in God (by Christine Aroney-Sine). I have no idea how I came across it, but I am delighting in it. “Nothing lights up the brain like play…”. “We don’t usually think about having fun with our spiritual practices…I find myself wondering if we need to rethink what spiritual practices are and how they connect us to God.” “Restoring the joy of play restores the joy of spiritual practice. It is part of our journey toward redemption and salvation.” And the question, the beautiful question, “What creative and playful activities do you enjoy that could become fun spiritual practices for you?”
What an amazing idea that play could be a spiritual practice. A restorative practice as well as a transformative one. It delights me that play could lead me into mystery, into love, into intimacy. But, that is something that play does. It bonds us to our play-mates. It helps us to stretch and learn new things because it is fun or because we are doing it with someone.
I no longer play with dolls, or nurses kits. I don’t pretend to be a cowgirl while riding my bike or of being a ballerina when I listen to classical music. I no longer build forts in woodlands, and I don’t ice-skate on frozen lakes. Those were a few of the things that lit my brain when I was a child.
So what does light up my brain now?
First, I find it much easier to mention the things that do not light up my brain. Doing dishes! Doing laundry! Watching sports! Reading assembly instructions! Filling out forms!…. But, the question is, “What creative and playful activities do I enjoy that could become fun spiritual practices for me?” Creative and playful being the important words.
My play seems to be mostly solo. Walking around the local lakes, being outdoors seems to clear my mind, creates mind space to think without a screen. Knitting seems to light up my brain….learning a new stitch or technique, or weaving a basket. But, what would it look like if I were to “play into” those things that don’t seem to light up my brain? What if I were to change the narrative or make a game out them? What would a child be doing if they were doing the dishes? What would they be appreciating or noticing? What would they be trying to do? How would they fill out the forms? (Can I at least think about it?) I can still do the solo things; Visiting with people one-on-one , reading, writing my thoughts down in a journal. But, whether I enjoy doing something or not, how would a child do it?
I may even come up with a list of playful practices to use when I feel depleted? A quick go-to “playlist”! What might I notice? God watching? God playing with me? And how might it make me feel while I’m doing it? Can I let go of the “I have to get this done” feeling? Can I just be with myself in a more joy-filled way? Will I feel grounded and relaxed?
So if you’ve read this far, I wonder if you have any thoughts about play as a spiritual practice and what other questions I might ask myself when I play.