As we continue to move into these hot summer days, I find myself yearning for more “playtime” and thinking back to what that has looked like in my life over the years.
My summer months as a child were often spent in a different country with my family as my father was studying or teaching as a foreign law professor. It was a bit unusual perhaps, but in hindsight I have always appreciated what it afforded us four children—windows into other worlds including cultures, cuisines, languages, religions, and people and places often vastly different from our own. Added to those various landscapes was the gift of time together—time to explore and “play” together.
“Play” meant travel time and adventure in my family growing up—exploring museums and national monuments, theater and opera, eating new food and hearing new languages—it was, always, in all of its variations, time that couldn’t be duplicated or approximated without direct experience. In other words, no amount of trip planning or research could ultimately prepare us for what we discovered together as a family. Of course, as a child in my family system I just went along for the ride, mostly unaware of what it took to move all 6 of us at a time around the globe. But I suspect even my parents would agree that no amount of coordination and planning could ever fully prepare us for the surprises we discovered together once we were in the streets of Mexico City, or on a beach in Southern France, or in a Shinto shrine in Japan; what always greeted us was something unexpected and delightful.
These days “play” feels like an anathema of sorts amidst a season of global and social pandemics, and yet, no less more important. I realize that many are steeped in daily struggle- to the extent that I cannot even fathom, and so even the suggestion of “play” may ring hollow for some. And yet, each of us, beloved children of God need and deserve time to be wrapped tightly in love and care and tenderness. Lately I have felt that yearning again, even for a short time- to discover what cannot be planned or completely articulated but rather experienced in the moment. Perhaps it is at least in part what our tradition of Sabbath invites us into; a time to rest not only our bodies but our minds and our propensities to try to fix all that is wrong or hurting or unjust in the world around us.
So, while travel of really any sort seems so far out of reach these days, leaning into God’s invitation for Sabbath is always available. Even now, maybe especially now, I see and feel a deep need in my own soul, and maybe you do too as well, to sit still for an extended time; to find a place where we can indeed “Be still and know that God is here.”
From the middle of August through the end of the month I will lean into a couple of weeks without a schedule, to-do lists and deadlines. In their place I will do my best to not only rest but to also play. I hope each of you has or will find moments to do the same this summer. If we embrace, as I do, the notion that there is no division between what is sacred and secular in the world, then every good walk or meal or game or nap or good book can be an act of holy longing able to heal what needs replenishing in our lives and deep in our souls.
May you never forget that you are loved,