Spirituality and Play

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True spirituality is not simply “religious activity.” Sometimes our religious activity is a space for our spirituality to be present, but religious activity is not, in itself, the same as our spirituality. Spirituality is that which makes us most human, most as we are designed by God to be. For example, spirituality comes to life when we love, when we share hope together, and yes, when we play.

Once, I was in Calgary, Alberta, visiting with my son’s family before they returned to Indonesia for a four year term of work and ministry. Calgary is a city of bike trails, and we saddled up our bikes and headed out into the hills. Our first ride was 15 km through the city and out into the western hills. At several points, the trail was underwater, and my son rode through first. Finding it still and no more than 15 or so inches deep, I followed, splashing water up to my knees and drenching my shoes . . . and laughing!

Something about the experience of riding through water was wildly invigorating. And childish. We laughed and hooted and rode on, calling jokes to each other through the wind.

As I rode, my inner tension cracked and flaked off my soul. My body engaged with the wind and air as we pressed ourselves to make the hills and race the flats. Wildlife surprised us and filled us with wonder.

When the ride was over (we did several), I was surprised at the level of peace in my soul. Some of it was physical, granted, but some of it was from laughing, from being a human being and not a human doing for a couple hours.

Play is being an amateur. It is activity without assessment. Play is art, and relationship, and surprise. May we all learn to foster and better cherish this blessed gift given us from our Father.

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Vice President for Community Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary and has been a church leader in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination since 1979. She has wide pastoral experience in partnership with her husband Steve. Together, they have lead three churches over 31 years, provided missionary member-care and pastoral retreats in Chile, Argentina and Venezuela since l985, and formation teaching during Field Conferences in Eastern Europe and Indonesia.

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