Way back in time, when I was a child, play times with friends were not normally prearranged. We just headed outside and down the street until we found someone to play with.
Much was the same when my children were young. They went into the neighbourhood, connected with friends and came back home for dinner.
Today, between the busy work schedules of parents and extracurricular activities for kids, this is more challenging. Add in the media warnings not to leave children unattended and the kind of play other generations participated in is no longer commonplace.
The social interaction of play is important so play dates are arranged in order to make it happen.
If this is a good idea for children, it makes sense to me the same would hold true for adults. My friends and I may have good intentions but we can go months without actually seeing each other.
When it does happen it’s usually two of us meeting at a coffee shop or over lunch. After an hour or so, we are both on our way again.
I decided I wanted more than that so arranged a play date with three other friends. We met at the home studio of another friend and spent an entire afternoon talking and laughing as we stepped out of our comfort zone and learned to work with resin.
The afternoon was a success. Everyone agreed we should do it again next month. The projects we created were a bonus as the real prize was the time spent having fun together. My biggest take away from the day was that play dates are good for adults too!
We saw them as we were walking along the beach. Three children had dug a hole in the wet sand and were now sitting in it, slathering themselves with mud.
Brian and I remarked on their obvious joy. A woman was standing nearby watching and I said, “They sure are having fun.” Her disapproval was obvious when she replied, “They’re so dirty. I’m glad they’re not my kids.”
This seemed such a sad statement. Their play was not a disturbance to those around them. We actually gained pleasure by just watching their fun. They were busy enjoying their mud baths, oblivious to the opinions of those around them. It was the children and not the adult who had the right idea.
I looked back to see one boy run into the lake, wash off and then return to his friends to paint arms and legs with mud once again.
Oh, to be like a child, free to ignore what other may think and just have fun. Sometimes I need to relax and not concern myself with maintaining a spotless image. It’s ok if my hands get dirty or I get mud on my face. There may be people who disapprove but there just may be more who want to enter the fun with me.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
An example of pure joy was being played out before me. Young children were running through a large puddle. Smiling parents stood nearby, watching as their children laughed and splashed through the water.
As I passed by, the children were asking their parents, “Can we go just one more time? Pleeease.” They were having so much fun they didn’t want it to end!
It made me happy just to watch their enthusiastic play. No expensive toys were needed. All that was necessary were rubber boots and a puddle. As far as the children were concerned I’m sure even the rubber boots were optional!
I wondered when I had last taken the time to play. Not a game where there is a desired outcome, but just to have fun. I am grateful for the children in my life who encourage me to relax and enjoy life. They are wonderful teachers.
Playing is good for us. It reduces stress, eases burdens and restores a sense of optimism. For a healthy life, it is more a necessity than a luxury.
When I do something just for fun, my creativity is unleashed. Maybe that’s because I break free from the box of conformity I often place myself in.
We can learn a lot about each other through play. This begs the next question. Who wants to come out and play?
“You can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.” -Plato
“Can I go outside and play in the snow?” my granddaughter asked. “Sure,” I replied. “Are your sisters going with you?”
Her sisters wanted to stay indoors but she was happy to go out on her own. The pristine snow in our backyard was soon marked with tracks as she jumped and played in her private winter wonderland.
When I next looked out she was making a snow angel. The grin on her face was huge. I turned to my husband and said, “When I look at her I see pure joy.”
The joy came from being free to play. There were no rules to follow. She could just have fun.
It made me wonder about the last time I did something just for the pleasure it would bring. To be free to play and not care what anyone else might think. As the famous quote says, “Dance like nobody’s watching.”
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood many of us have forgotten how to play. There is no reason life always has to be taken so seriously. Let’s give ourselves permission to play with the joyful abandon of a child.
Life is full of exciting adventures. It’s time to be spontaneous and get out there and enjoy!
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
The fresh snowfall had covered our yard with a pristine coat of white. I gazed at its beauty, untouched save for the prints of the hare that frequents our neighbourhood. The few marks left behind by wild creatures did nothing to detract from the fine, icy snowflakes that sparkled in the morning sun. This was nature in its finest fresh and unspoiled state.
The yard stayed this way for days. Then children came to visit. They romped and played in the snow. I watched them lay on their backs to make snow angels. Armfuls of snow were gathered for building structures in other parts of the yard. Their winter playground was thoroughly enjoyed and the scene left behind was anything but pristine.
At first I thought it was a shame the beauty had been disturbed. Then I was struck by how this related to my life.
Each day I start with a clean, fresh canvas, much like that of untouched snow. It is a gift from God and up to me what I do with it. If I want it to remain pristine I cannot step into it. Somehow that seems like a waste. Would I then just be watching life and not participating?
I need to step boldly into the day and use the resources before me. Life won’t always stay neat and tidy but that’s alright. Instead of worrying about the mess I could make I need to use the gifts God has placed before me. It is exciting to see what can be created.
This is how I can make the most out of each precious day I’ve been given. No matter how my day turns out I take great comfort in knowing that God’s mercies are brand new every morning and his love never ends.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
On a beautiful sunny day I set my inner child free and went outside to play with bubbles. I ran barefoot through the grass and moved the bubble wand in time with the music I could hear coming from the house.
There was nothing on my mind other than watching these thin films of iridescence float on the breeze.
When I thought about it later I realized that even this simple activity had lessons to teach me.
The first lesson was that it lightens my spirit when I take time to play. Nothing else mattered in those moments. I was filled with joy just to be alive.
Second was the beauty I saw. The shimmer of the bubbles also reflected what was around them. The blue sky, fluffy clouds and tall trees were seen in a new way as I gazed at them through the shimmering soapy film. I had a new appreciation for things I had taken for granted only moments before.
Lesson three was the many sizes and shapes of the bubbles. Some were small and round while others were large and almost oblong. A few seemed unbalanced and wobbled as they floated along. All were beautiful. It is the same with people.
This leads me right to lesson four. The shape of the bubbles changed as they adapted to the conditions around them. They had the flexibility to move with the breeze, changing direction and modify their shape as necessary. This flexibility is something I need to practice more in my life.
Lesson five was that although a bubble is only with us a short time, it still brings joy and laughter. Each one was a reminder to live life to the fullest and impact those I come in contact with in a positive way. The Lord has given me this day and I will rejoice and be glad.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” (Psalm 70:4 NIV)
I watched some children playing in the sand. Three were siblings and the other someone they had just met. An elaborate sand castle was being built.
What made this scene special was that three of the children spoke only English while the fourth spoke only French. The fact that they could not communicate with words made little difference to them.
The language they shared was that of working together towards a common goal and having fun. That was all that mattered.
These children reinforced an important lesson for me. When we focus on a common goal, the differences we have are not a concern. It is when we allow ourselves to become distracted by things that aren’t important that we run into problems.
We don’t need to speak the same language as others in order to work, play or get along together. All we need is respect and cooperation. In other words, we need to play nicely with others even though we may not fully understand them.
God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities. I need to not only share my strengths but also to embrace those of others. In that way everyone will be a winner in the game of life.
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25:29 NLT)
We sat on a bench in the sunshine enjoying the sights and sounds of children in the playground. When we first arrived there with our grandchildren I heard shouts of, “Take my picture;” “Look at me;” or “Push me on the swing.” The longer we were there, the less the adults were noticed.
What impressed me was the imagination of children at play. They were unselfconsciously creating the worlds that existed in their minds. New children arriving were welcomed into the fantasy. During this time anything was possible. We watched as one became a superhero. Another waved an invisible magic want to make it rain cookies for those around her!
At one point in life I must have had the same creative imagination. I wonder when and why it disappeared. Perhaps it was when I became too concerned with what others thought. In striving to be like everyone else, I gave up the freedom to dream about who I could become.
The good news is that Jesus has bigger dreams for my life than I could ever dream for myself. He is not limited by my lack of imagination. He also has the power and ability to bring those dreams to reality. My part in this is to pray for his leading and then trust and let him direct me. Instead of limiting his power in my life by asking, “Who am I to …?” I need to give him full reign by saying, “In his power, who am I not to?”
For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, put gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV