Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Worship, Work and Play


This piece appeared in The Sunday Age Faith column on the weekend.


Does everyone feel short of time? I do. If I clean the house then I'm not working in the garden; if I'm working in the garden, I'm not writing a word; if I'm writing, there are meals to cook; if I'm cooking, there is laundry to fold; if I'm folding, my kids need attention; and when's the last time I exercised? There are too many people to keep up with and chores to be done; too many school drop offs and pickups and kinder runs; too great a need for volunteers and hard workers that I cannot fill. When I let it, the sense of being pressed for time can feel overwhelming.

But what is time for? How should we use it?

In the Christian tradition, the answer is threefold. First, we are called to worship, sometimes in groups, sometimes alone. But worship doesn't happen in a vacuum; it is braided with two other aspects of life.

One is to work in whichever ways have been laid before us. Work may be paid, it may be voluntary; it may form a major part of our Christian identity or it may be our attitude that defines it as a faithful act: whatever it is, however we do it, most Christians know about work. Sadly, we often focus on it to the exclusion of the third strand, which is to play.

We don't hear much about this third strand; and when we do, it is often referred to as the deeply sober 'Sabbath rest'. In essence, however, it is an invitation to play, pure and simple. It's to engage in the restorative 'let's pretend' of a child or the challenge of a more formal game; it's the creative dance of a lively conversation. It's to have an afternoon nap and wake up still dreamy. It's to engage bodies, hearts and minds in the thrill of good sex and to lie around languidly afterwards. For in these moments, whether playing hide-and-seek with a child or chess with adult friends; whether drawing for pleasure or yarning with old mates or engaging in that most intimate of acts with someone we love, that we are so often called back to ourselves.

Gone are the puffed up pretences of the important person; gone is the illusion that we are indispensable. Gone too is the illusion that we are worthless. Instead, in loving relationships and contagious laughter, in creative acts and deep intimacy and the world of the child, we have the possibility of experiencing humility, vulnerability, openness and joy.

With this restoration, all the things we can or should do fade into insignificance, for we are no longer defined by our efforts. Instead, we may know ourselves and be known once again for who we really are, the cherished children of God.

(And if you've forgotten how to play, the following book is an excellent place to start! We use it several times a week, and much more during school holidays.)

Parlour Games for Modern Families

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...