Two weeks ago, Resto women gathered in the fellowship hall to eat junk food, laugh hysterically, and discuss the topic of play. Why? This was the latest in our series of Women Unscripted events, which have been working through the book of Ephesians all year to explore the theme “Growing Up in Christ” (Eph 4.15). As we’ve walked through this series – through our monthly Women Unscripted events and our February retreat – we’ve discovered that growing up in Christ means, paradoxically, becoming little children. As we mature, we learn to trust more and more in our true identity as God’s securely loved children. We are not orphans, left alone to make life work in a broken world. No, we are God’s children: safe, loved, supported, nurtured.
So throughout the spring, we’ll be looking at what it means to be God’s children. Our retreat speaker, Kristen Terry, identified for us four things that children do: They play. They rest. They work. And they celebrate. These four traits will guide our Women Unscripted events throughout the spring, and correspond with the remaining passages of Ephesians.
And that’s why several weeks ago we explored the seemingly strange topic of play. We discarded our adult sensibilities for one night to snack on gummy bears, Doritos, and cookies. We heard from three wonderful panelists (including our first teenager!) who embodied a mature playfulness and helped us to think and laugh deeply. Through their stories, they invited us to shed pretense, to embrace delight, and to invest “structured unstructured time” into friendships that are safe and intimate and joy-filled.
We also studied Ephesians 5.1-20 together, noticing the kind of exuberant freedom God invites us to as we delight in our identity as “children of light.” At first glance, the passage feels like a long list of “don’t”s: don’t get drunk. Don’t covet. Don’t indulge sexual immorality. But amidst those, we catch little glimpses of a kind of bright, exuberant lightness and freedom. We see that we are beloved children; we are a fragrant offering; we are to walk in love and light; we are to wake up and shake off our dull sleepiness; we are to bask in Christ’s light shining on us; and we are to sing – a lot! together! – from the heart. All of these images give us clues to how simple, free, and holy our play can feel as securely loved children.
Once this picture of play emerges, we see all those “don’t”s for what they truly are, a sort of sham play that masks as freedom, but actually just temporarily numbs, distracts, or soothes us as we attempt to make life work on our own, apart from the care and provision of our Father.
And so we discussed at our tables ways that we play, or wished we could play. We shared our favorite places, books, and habits. We laughed a lot! And now we’ve compiled the content of those discussions into a “Ways to Play” document, for any among us who need some ideas. Notice that nearly all of these involve movement, senses, and being outdoors. Why not grab a friend or a bag of gummy bears and head outside for a playdate with God this month?
Ways to Play:
Playing with kids and their toys
Sprinting (rather than walking) between destinations, the way kids run to the water fountain
Dipping toes in the water
Being read to aloud
Walking in the sunshine
Drinking coffee by the window
Riding roller coasters
Hiking the Billy Goat trail
Walking in grass
Toes in the sand
Exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger
Books: Madeleine L’Engle, Brothers Karamazov
Dropping leaves/petals into water
Throwing/skipping rocks in water
Walking through Lubber Run Park
Concerts at Wolf Trap
Visiting local gardens
Throwing a ball with a dog
Laughing with dear friends
Jumping across rocks in a creek
Dancing in the kitchen
Drinking coffee/wine with a friend
Digging in dirt
Walking in the woods
Sitting in the sun
Looking for little signs of God’s love in ordinary things/places; e.g. heart-shaped things
Spending time with horses
Getting away from DC
Games with family/friends
Women Unscripted Tuesdays, 7.30pm in the Fellowship Hall:
April 25: Mature children work
May 16: Mature children rest
June 20: Mature children celebrate!
Do come – and bring a friend…
~ Amy Rowe
(and Liz Gray)