Does Spiritual Formation sound like hard work to you? Is it something on your daily to-do chore checklist? Does the idea of playing seem incompatible with building strong discipleship?
As my husband, Max and I have worked to settle into our new home we have discovered just how important it is to take time to play. In fact, it is so important that we have set aside a special cabinet we refer to as “Our Toy-Box.” As we unpacked our moving boxes we learned to check deep down in the corners before sending them off to be recycled. Many stray paper clips, pennies, and game pieces were saved from being lost forever. And marbles. Lots of marbles were found in the depths of those boxes. I can’t say that we had lost our marbles because I don’t remember having them in the first place. I am not sure where they came from, but now the beautiful sparkly glass orbs have a special place in Our Toy-Box.
Max recently shared with me that when he was a small boy he would go to his special spot, his sanctuary in the back yard. It was quiet, cool, and shady behind the place his father had stored some old wood and construction materials. I asked him what he would do while he was there. He told me he practiced playing marbles. He wanted to be ready to play when the guys all got together for a game. I smiled at the thought of him practicing playing to be ready to play. Isn’t that also one of the reasons to have daily spiritual formation practices…to strengthen our discipleship to be prepared to participate in our world? We practice to be ready.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
The Toy-Box is always open and available to anyone wanting to play. It’s filled with an assortment of books and games and toys. But what I love most about it is to watch as the bowl of marbles is removed from the shelf and our guest digs their hand into the bowl searching for just one to take out and hold up to the sunlight. It is a kind of a ritual. I see it as a sacred practice. A play-prayer of seeking out inner beauty that can only be seen through the light of God. Each of those marbles has gone through quite a creation process of heating and forming to become that Objet D’art that Merriam-Webster defines as “a small object that is valued because it is beautiful or interesting”.
Playing, then, can be good for the soul and community, so how will you practice play today?
If you would like to see the process of marble-making this is a beautiful vintage video by the Discovery Channel:
Love God, Love Christ, Love Others.
I am passionate about creating Missional Relationships that encourage disciples to personify Christ's message. As a minister in a Community of Christ congregation in Virginia I am learning everyday what it means to be vulnerable, to risk, to experiment, to share in a world that needs the redemptive healing of Christ.
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