Women Unscripted: Ways to play

Mature_Children_ImageTwo 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

Baking

Sprinting (rather than walking) between destinations, the way kids run to the water fountain

Watching sports

Dipping toes in the water

Being read to aloud

Walking in the sunshine

Drinking coffee by the window

Riding roller coasters

Swings

Rocking chairs

Hiking the Billy Goat trail

Walking in grass

Coloring

Water games

Playgrounds

Toes in the sand

Exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger

Caroling

Paddleboarding

Books: Madeleine L’Engle, Brothers Karamazov

Gardening

Running

Barre

Yoga

Playing music

Dropping leaves/petals into water

Throwing/skipping rocks in water

Walking through Lubber Run Park

Concerts at Wolf Trap

Visiting local gardens

Painting

Throwing a ball with a dog

Laughing with dear friends

Hula hooping

Jumping across rocks in a creek

Picnicking

Fresh air

Dancing in the kitchen

Drinking coffee/wine with a friend

Knitting

Sewing

Travel

Digging in dirt

Walking in the woods

Writing letters

Quiet

Dressing up

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

Grilling

Bike rides

Games with family/friends

Coming up:

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)