Spirituality is grave stuff. Incredibly smart people with many letters after their names study spirituality and the nature of God. They have read millions of books and use words that have six syllables. Spirituality is to be taken very seriously. God is very, very solemn.
How long has it been since you considered the ridiculous nature of a rhinoceros? They are huge and funny-looking, and their tusk is in between their eyes. They serve no true purpose and look awkward! I mean, really, why is the tusk in between their eyes? I sometimes wonder if the Father and Son were playing a game that the rhino lost on day five of creation.
All over creation lies evidence of God’s playful nature. It wasn’t efficient to have flowers of so many colors. It’s not necessary to have so many varieties of rain. Who designs each individual snow flake? Playful puppies, dancing dolphins, and scurrying squirrels are all evidence of God at play. So why do human adults find it so hard to be playful? Why do we assume life is meant to be serious all the time? Rabbi Rami Sharpiro says, “As a child, awe and wonder come naturally to you, but as these are institutionalized they become work rather than play, and hence much harder to achieve.”
We adults take life, and therefore spirituality, to be so very important that it must be institutionalized. Spiritual growth is tracked, planned, predicted, and structured by our limited understanding. Then it becomes work, instead of wonder-filled. So, I would like to suggest one spiritual discipline that is likely missing from your life: PLAY.
How long has it been since you raced across damp grass barefoot simply to feel your legs pump?
When was the last time to you were on a swing trying to touch a cloud?
How old is too old to skip instead of stroll?
Have you ever danced wildly to your favorite music until you were sweaty and laughing?
Play invites us to be beginners, to be adventurous and curious. So often, we expect ourselves to know all the answers before we ever start because we are adults. But really, what tough questions are there to answer about playing? Risk, dare, try something new. Revel in the unknown. Choose wonder!
Play invites us to be grounded in our physical bodies. Rather than keeping our spiritual experience in our minds, play reminds us that bodies are good and holy things, too. Heart pumping, lungs working, muscles moving, face smiling. These were named very good on day six, and incarnation reminds us that bodies are holy. How long has it been since you engaged your body as good? Choose to awe at God’s creation of you!
Play invites us to stop achieving, or trying to improve our position. Instead, we are invited to simply be in the moment for the moment’s sake. This exact moment is a gift from God. It is not just a building block toward your next goal. Choose joy in the right now!
Stop reading. Go outside. Play Ring around the Rosie. Ride your bike for fun, instead of a workout. Blow some bubbles. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Skip to your car. Play!
Rhesa Higgins is a spiritual director and experienced retreat leader. She holds a B.S. from ACU in youth and family ministry and is a graduate of HeartPaths, a three-year program in spiritual formation and direction. Rhesa serves as the founding Director for eleven:28 ministries (www.eleven28ministries.org) in Dallas, Texas, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the spiritual vitality of ministers. Rhesa is also a partner with Hope Network. She is married to Chad and together they are raising their three kids. Rhesa loves good coffee, dark chocolate, baseball, theatre, and most any good book.