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Playing with God

Just before I fell asleep last night, I told God that I was looking forward to our visit together the next day. I love to wake up early in the morning, drink coffee, read, and spend quality time in centering prayer. Perhaps it was this genuine enthusiasm that prevented me from finally falling to sleep at a respectable hour.  Or perhaps it was a sense that God was already stirring something in my spirit. Either way, this anticipation kept me awake long enough for me to recheck my alarm clock that faithfully told me that my alarm would ring 5 hours and 39 minutes from then. It would be hard to wake up at 5:30 the next day.

Sure enough, the startling sound of my cell phone awakened me exactly 5 hours and 39 minutes from the time I had checked it last night and amazingly, I jumped out of the bed before I had even turned it off. I put on my favorite bathrobe, brewed a cup of coffee for myself and made my way to my favorite couch. I read, pondered and then spent some time in centering prayer.

This time of prayer left me with the most unusual vision which I fully intended to blog about today… but as I began to put it into words, it came out as two poems:

Part 1
hopping, skipping, cartwheeling
across the beach
in my bridal gown
with the Groom
the earth is a trampoline
the sand under our feet
is as playful as the first snow
and yet
the sea is so calm and big
it soothes my soul
we fall into the sand
laughing
we make snow angels together
we look up into the heavens
and I wonder
before I ask, the Groom says
enjoy this thing
I am doing
this thing your heart has been longing for
we resume
our cartwheels, skipping, hopping
jumping
but the sea catches my eye
and I stop
to ponder its vastness
what am I to do?
I ask
He says in a gentle but probing voice,
play with me…
play with me

Part 2
It has been so long since I last played
I think I forgot how
there is a lifting in my soul
a memory flickers
of innocent times
sitting in the grass
and I remember
a place in me
of carefree rest
wonder
enchantment
play…
play with me, He says

What does it mean to be playful?

As I continue my practice of prayer, Jesus continues to invite me to play. Recently as I prayed through Psalm 23, I noticed that in my time of centering prayer, Jesus was with me in the green grass by the still waters. It was a beautiful place. Instantly I saw that we were moving around a lot… I was a child, which I often am when I see myself with Jesus. He was happy, turning around and around with me in his arms; tossing me up towards the sun. His smile was warm and there was great delight in his eyes and we skipped through the meadows by the still waters.

“What are you doing, Jesus?” my thought interrupted my prayer…”I thought we were supposed to be resting?” I inquired.

“We are playing…”

“Oh… is that what this is” the thought took my breath away. Jesus was gently, playfully reminding me of his invitation to play. I realized in a brief moment that I didn’t even recognize that that is what we were doing… because I am so serious sometimes… and because somehow in my spirituality there is no room for this playful Jesus who keeps showing up. Read more

Coincidental or could this really be God?

“Coincidental , or could this really be God?” I asked myself as I stared in disbelief at my Dove Candy wrapper. Just yesterday, God gave me a profound invitation to play with Him during my time of centering prayer. I saw us playing on the beach, making snow angels and skipping… I felt so carefree and lighthearted in the vision. As soon as the prayer time was over, it occurred to me how difficult the concept of playing was for me.

My childhood was not very playful. My dad died when I was only eleven years old and this tragedy turned my innocent world upside down. As I think back, the last time I remember truly playing was just before he died. Perhaps his death initiated me into the adult world of responsibility too soon.

As I reflected further, I realized that many times, maybe because I am a firstborn, I feel the need to figure everything out ahead of time. Instead of delighting in the day and its surprises, I can become regimented and guarded. Delighting and playing are indeed a stretch for me.

Later on that day, I found myself in a meeting where we were talking about the wonderful things God is doing in our church; a fresh movement of the spirit. I noticed that I along with others felt the need to organize it, theologize about it, anticipate the outcome and plan it. At that moment, I remembered the poem I had written to capture the vision from my prayer. I pulled it out along with a piece of Dove Chocolate. I ruminated over the invitation to delight in this new thing God was doing… to be playful. At that point I glanced down to read what my Dove Chocolate Wrapper had to say on the inside… “Forget  the rules and play by your heart” Coincidence, maybe, but the child inside of me that is learning how to play thinks it may just be God.