Our present world seems opposed to “wonder,” set against the playfulness of fireflies, the mystery of light beams, the power of stardust burning high over our heads. I wonder how to move on with my life. I wonder how to plan for the unprecedented days ahead. How quickly pandemic and tumult and tragedy snuff out the dance of our flames.
But Einstein, later in life, said to a friend, “We never cease to stand like curious children before that great mystery into which we were born.” Einstein was guided by play; we are distracted by the continual contradiction of threat and safety, the constrictions of contagions. As I look out my window, white clouds float silently above as if they never knew about this morning’s rain. The wren flitters through the Spring green, subject only to her Creator, who endows her tiny vocals to rhapsodize each day. Their innocence provides an invitation to rest.
The word “play” is defined as “the reframing of a situation in such a way as to provide oneself (and possibly others) amusement, humor, or entertainment.” Play’s power is what is required after toiling for seasons on questions not giving way to answers, after struggling now to pay a few small bills.
At a wearying point a season ago, I had decided it was necessary to take up the post of preventing generational patterns from causing further harm in my life and family. I thought I could trust that God would provide for me because, as I was the obvious victim, it was His duty to care. To the contrary, I did not receive the support from my family and “friends” I expected. Other agendas overshadowed my questions concerning events that had occurred in my childhood. I was told I was asking about something “very small” and that I was behaving like a child.
I began the fight as the little girl whose independence and determination held such promise—my mother would tell me that I learned to walk in a day—; however, loneliness, anxiety, and disaster mined through my head as I started accepting the truth that my family would not walk with me into dark and treacherous landscape. They would not acknowledge their harm in my life nor engage in reconciliatory pathways.
Had I made a mistake that sentenced me to spend the rest of my life barely making ends meet, given it is no small financial cost to embrace life, wholeness, and healing? Did God not care to help me achieve health in all of my relationships so that I could stand and be heard? Now He only seemed to suggest it had been my choice to challenge the status quo for reasons that were not really His own—never mind that He could not make others take care of me in my heart’s broken and frozen state.
The wonder of it became how playfulness helped me carve a path of my own in spite of the daily demands of rent payments and cell phone bills. Grasping hold of the future wasn’t that hard, but God needed me to understand something else.
Recognizing the weight of the chains that held me down would take a pandemic to shake and isolate me from those who had continually threatened and intimidated me from discovering I had a choice.
I had a choice to contribute and give of myself in the confidence and security of Someone who loved me. I had a choice not to stay hidden behind closed doors, waiting for someone else to knock and say hello. I had a choice to live in the wonder of fireflies, light beams, and shooting stars, which beckon my dreaming. The wonder was knowing I was not the sum total of insults and abuses hurled at me from early days, which had once swallowed up my courage and sunk my identity low.
Playfulness in a context which threatened its very existence each has been necessary for me. I have needed to be playful to taste joy as well as to fuel my courage. I am no longer surviving but thriving, no longer delicate but strong.
How big is your playground? The puddles inside our playgrounds invite us to play and to splash with a joy that is neither frivolous nor unnecessary. Instead, this is the genius that becomes our highest form of research in the paradox of facing the world as it really is. Play is our life-line.
Marcia is a single ambitious-and-courageous dreamer-woman. She lives on the southern Pacific coastline of British Columbia, where flowers, oceans, and wilderness encourage her photography. Soon, she anticipates using her BA in Psychology in helping realms but, for the meantime, reflects on how creating specially crafted notebooks might inspire others towards greater hope and new thoughts about life well-lived.