I now know why grandchildren come into our lives when they do. Or puppies, small furry kittens, hedgehogs named Tulip, ponies named Strawberry and May, or any number of little people or animals that burst upon our lives with their boundless energy. Oh, sure, along with all that cuteness comes a pile of taking care of, feeding, cleaning up after, and watching over. Yet the fun and fabulous part of all, is the boundless play.
It is so easy in our grownup seriousness and juggling of responsibilities to lose that playful part of ourselves. Especially in a world bent on destruction. Or at least one that would rather focus primarily on the hard things of life, with little thought or recognition of those things that bring joy. I must admit to being one of those who naturally focuses on a project ‘til its completion, hard to let it go in the process, to interrupt the flow. This becomes more than difficult when a “project” or responsibility is a living thing, one with a mind of its own! So enters the gift of play, the release valve in an over-pressurized world.
I remember the first day I let loose and danced around with some of our young grands. Our daughter was astounded. It had been so long since those days when she and I played. How had I let those times slip away? Yes, I did give her up to playing with her half-siblings who came to live permanently with us, after the death of their mother. Soon after came the birth of their brother, to round out our clan of two boys and two girls. Somewhere in there, in all the busyness and responsibilities, I must have lost my play. And as I look back I am regretful for that.
Play brings permission to forget oneself and just enjoy. In-joy. Let joy come into oneself. How often we think it, or watch it, but forget to actually do it. Children, puppies, kittens, ponies, tiny hedgehogs, so many blessings of God’s incredible creation invite us into that experience. As I grow older and the busyness of adult life falls away I find myself longing for that playfulness, that innocence of childhood. The unburdened living in the moment, without all the extra baggage. I deeply respect my cousin who did play extensively with her young children throughout their growing. She and her husband still do. Where did we lose our play?
My hope is that in becoming more childlike as I age, and continuing to regain a sense of the playful me, that the joy in me will leak out, overflow into a dark and hurting world, bringing lightness not only to me, but to those around me, too. That I will float in the river that brings life and nourishment to all it touches, and in-joy the journey on the way. Fun!