While not a word we might immediately associate with spiritual maturation, play is a powerful metaphor for a fully integrated life. Few things frighten me more than persons who have become deadly serious about their religion. Living in a flat world with limited dimensions, they have lost perspective. They set no place at the table for the clown, the child, the muse. They have lost the art of play.
is free-form spontaneous creativity. It
is the essence of improvisation, a state of intuitive receptivity to the
God-given powers of the soul. Play
delights in the wonder of the moment, often finding joy and humor where they
are least evident. Like Jesus, the great
saints of our tradition have been graced with joy and playful humor even in the
midst of suffering. If you doubt Jesus
had a sense of humor, follow Elton Trueblood's suggestion: Imagine the Pharisee
straining a gnat from his cup and instead swallowing a camel -- yes, the whole huge mass of humps and
hooves slides surreptitiously down his throat without his ever noticing!
involves befriending our "wild" side.
Some theologians have observed that God is "wild",
undomesticated, free to play in sovereign creativity through time and
eternity. As beings made in the image
and likeness of God, we reflect this creative potential. The wild side of us is kin to the child side
of us. Children live in a world of
improbable imagination. Could this be
one reason why Jesus said we must become "as little children" in
order to enter the kingdom of God? The
picture Jesus paints of the kingdom is wildly improbable. Things are truly upside-down from an
"adult" point of view: the last are first, the great are small, the
despised are blessed.
Thomspson in Leading From the Center, Spring 2000