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Play 3: Spontaneity

Question:

In play time today risk getting lost.
What happened?

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Transcript of Video:

Seeing that, as we’re Brothers – monks, dressed in black – one might get the impression, particularly when seeing us in church, that there could be no playfulness here whatsoever, that we’re sad and solemn; we’re talking heads of wisdom and sobriety. But I find, oftentimes, that the liturgy is a time for playfulness, particularly when there’s a spontaneity about it: when we enter into it with a spirit of discovery or exploration, seeing what happens. I think also, in Genesis, when God has created the heavens and the earth, he’s then creating creatures to be companions with the first human, with Adam, and just delighting in what Adam names them – giving them names. And in the liturgy I think we’re kind of – we have the opportunity to create, spontaneously, and see what comes out of it. To see what God is creating in us and around us. And it comes in companionship with others. It’s in the companionship with others.

I think my favorite moments in the liturgy are when there’s something – may catch somebody’s sense of humor in a way that it doesn’t for others, and there’s a spontaneous kind of response that may get my attention back to the fact that when we are ¬– particularly in making Eucharist – we are engaged in a kind of divine act of play, that the Eucharist is an enactment of all that God has done for us. We’re playing creation; we’re playing salvation; we’re playing eternal glory. And I don’t think that’s very far from the kinds of ways in which I played as a child, when I would inevitably be the friar or the monk when we were playing knights or Robin Hood, drawing it all together into a spontaneous act of joy. Losing ourselves in the moment: that’s to play.

-Br. Jonathan Maury

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43 Comments

  1. Lisa on March 20, 2015 at 11:04

    Boy, this weekis so challenging for me. Play is not part of my life. I have known that play and creativity is missing from my life, but this lenten series is bringing it home big time! What a blessing for me. Although it sounds like a bit of a conflict – I need to be intentional about bringing play and creativity into my life!

  2. Kimber on March 19, 2015 at 16:24

    Well, I did get lost in play today, I think. At least, I’ve enjoyed one of the best days of my life, and yes I feel like I was truly lost in it. My husband and I were taking a two-day get-a-way to Palm Springs, California. We visited a botanical garden which specializes in cacti, and I enjoyed snapping many nature photographs that will be the makings of future paper design projects. The whole day offered a number of activities in which I could “just be” and be aware and appreciative of the moment. Probably the best was the time we spent in the inn’s pool after dark when the stars were out. Just floating on my back in the lovely water, looking up at the stars, was truly this kind of getting lost in the moment. Would I call this play? Well, yes, I think so. It was wonderful to have nothing else on my mind. All I was thinking was what a beautiful view of God’s creation I had, how my God-given senses were allowing me to be fully present, and that I would always remember this moment, this time, this experience.

  3. Patricia on March 19, 2015 at 12:30

    Today I must play with my husband and I cannot get lost in that “play”. And yet, I can get lost when I have a chance to delve into a good book or watch a great movie. Sometimes my artwork takes me out of myself. Next week when I’m away I intend to lose myself in play!

  4. Jana Everett on March 18, 2015 at 15:46

    I did this yesterday in pilates class–a couple of times–I went into a never never land–didn’t hear the instructions, my eyes were closed and then I opened my eyes and noticed what others were doing. This made me feel more relaxed, more able to be present to my students later.

  5. Karen on March 18, 2015 at 13:52

    I’ve had some downtime lately, but I’ve felt very passive. Play is active. Today I’m going to take some time to play with my dogs, who truly know how to get lost in play and live in the moment.

  6. Lissa Davis on March 18, 2015 at 10:48

    Something I should definitely do more of. My spontaneous joy is taking a couple of minutes to play with my dog. She’s so goofy I can’t help but laugh.

  7. NA on March 18, 2015 at 07:40

    I did not wind up with play time over the past few days, not this kind anyway. A long time friend was visiting for a long weekend, and oddly enough, this brought more pressure than play. Ah, well, at least this will be a fun homework to catch up on today.

  8. Verlinda on March 18, 2015 at 00:19

    I had a “catch-up” lunch with a friend today, and after we ate, we went browsing around our local bookstore looking at everything, finding books to laugh out loud at, getting tangled up in wind chimes on display, geeking out over Star Trek books…it was just spontaneous and riotously joyful! Just what I needed after a tought week.

  9. Karen Fast on March 17, 2015 at 23:22

    Having read the instruction this morning, I went for a 1/2 hour walk this afternoon and got lost in my thoughts. I came home lighter, with a more positive sense of self and what needed to be done before the end of the day. Play does make a difference.

  10. Ed on March 17, 2015 at 23:16

    Interesting concept. I am a member of a choir with a sense of humor. Sometimes I think a joke might be sacrilegious, but you are telling me that maybe it is not? I’ll have to think about this.

  11. Susan Zimmerman on March 17, 2015 at 23:09

    …entire office is getting into college basketball brackets and playoffs…three of us were shooting paperclips into 4 inch metal basket…five feet away i swished 3 in a row…with paperclips all over the floor…fun!!!

  12. Dee Dee on March 17, 2015 at 22:48

    One thing I enjoy is incorporating a little playfulness into my workplace. Yesterday I sang a song from a familiar children’s tv show, today I created an office pool for the ncaa basketball tournament. What happens? We all get a chance to smile and enjoy a break from our routines, if only for a few minutes. Also, it makes me feel good to bring a little fun into the day, and to (I hope) make this little corner of the world a little brighter for those around me.

  13. Linda H. on March 17, 2015 at 22:06

    I was at a 90th birthday party for a long-time friend tonight and, without much forethought, took the microphone and talked about my admiration for the way he loved, respected and enjoyed his wife; that I knew this was a gracious gentleman by how he treated those close to him. It was risky (since it was personall and most speakers talked about his political idealism and courage) and spontaneous. At first I was worried I had overstepped the emotional barrier, but afterward so many people came up to me and thanked me for speaking from the heart. Whew! I’m glad I took the risk.

  14. Sophfronia on March 17, 2015 at 21:29

    I guess my “play” today involved having enjoyable conversations with friends I don’t see very often. In both instances I risked losing track of time. In the first instance my friend and I would have both lost valuable writing time if we had kept talking. In the second instance, running into a friend at the local library, I risked losing track of time and forgetting to pick up my son from his choir practice. Neither happened: my friend and I did our writing and I picked up my son on schedule. But I was aware of how play has a certain timelessness to it and I missed not being able to indulge in that carefree consciousness.

  15. David Cranmer on March 17, 2015 at 20:24

    Play is something that somehow got lost along the way in life. I do have difficulty being spontaneous. Several months ago, I asked my Bible study group to pray that there would be more playfulness in my life. One particularly playful member snickered “that it was not possible.” I commented that with God all things are possible; she responded with “not this.” So that gives you a sense of how much playfulness has disappeared from my life. I’m still praying.

    • NA on March 18, 2015 at 07:32

      Why not ask her for some practical suggestions? If she knows well how to play, then you have an expert source of info there just waiting to be tapped.

  16. Agatha Nolen on March 17, 2015 at 20:13

    You never know when God wants to show you something. I’ve gotten so I always carry a camera (and at least my camera phone). You never know when something in God’s kingdom is so beautiful that you have to capture it to share it with others.

  17. Kathleen on March 17, 2015 at 19:27

    When I first signed up for this devotional I thought this would be the easiest week for me. Play? I have two small children. I play all the time. This week has brought some personal difficulties for me, and in reading Brother Jonathon’s words this morning, I realized that I spent most of yesterday avoiding playing with my children, because I was too preoccupied. Today I made an effort to play, and found joy and some perspective on my troubles. Thank you.

  18. Bob on March 17, 2015 at 18:38

    I ended up wandering off down an alley of “if I were a football team manager”, and then into all sort of moral complexities about if behaving badly off the field meant you shouldn’t play on it …

    Amazing where things finish up when you let them, isn’t it?

  19. Susan Dredge on March 17, 2015 at 17:30

    Food for thought for me. I am certainly not a spontaneous person. I do not like to leave things to chance, I am a planner, an arranger, making sure everything is done and planned. I feel safe if I follow the plan I made and not deviate, get anxious if the timing is out or the route different to one I planned. Saying that, I take pleasure if friends turn up unexpectedly, or an invitation comes which I have not expected. Perhaps I do need to take that different route, go to a different event, just do something without all the pre-planning.

  20. Harold Pound on March 17, 2015 at 16:29

    For my almost daily walk, I took a different path today, and I looked at all the flowering trees and bushes. I found myself marveling at the new life and beauty. I felt full of that new life that happens in Springtime. I found myself lost in that beauty.

  21. Pati on March 17, 2015 at 14:06

    Today is my birthday .. so I am going to get lost with that “inner child of glory” that Martin Smith speaks of in “A Season for the Spirit” …

  22. Sharli on March 17, 2015 at 13:17

    I played in my art studio yesterday – I got lost in the process and found myself meditating on friends and family, praying for their special concerns.

  23. Nicki on March 17, 2015 at 12:29

    This is a great theme. Losing/unleashing myself into play, work, or good reading, is engrossing myself. Until then I’m in transition trying to leave something else behind. This is the only way I can feel attentive and entirely there. Anything else is a scanning, a temptation, a momentary brushing by, because time won’t allow me to play now. This is the only way to immerse myself into a project without other matters worming their way into my consciousness! They have to be shelved, temporarily.
    What happens, is, that I accomplish something that is very important to me to do. I get all the way into it, sinking deeply into the context of the job.
    This is the only way I know to do something well, and if I’m creating, hopefully not to miss any steps. It’s not the most convenient, because I never learned to work amidst noise, although, I can lose myself in a good book, on a public conveyance or in the station.

  24. Martha Paine on March 17, 2015 at 11:53

    The Forward’s Morning Resolve…”I will try this day to cultivate cheerfulness”, leads me to a joyfull path that I follow each day, sometime there are stones that make me stumble along the way, but I try to tred on with the message in my heart; author, Norman Cousins, wrote, “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” for healing the body, mind and spirit. RX for the day. Martha

  25. Joyce on March 17, 2015 at 11:40

    I get “lost” when I engage in art projects, such as making greeting cards with beautiful papers and other decorations that are sold for scrapbooking. I haven’t made any cards lately, and I’ve been missing it. The meditations on play are a good nudge to set aside some time, get out my supplies and get lost again!

    • Joyce on March 18, 2015 at 00:20

      I did get out my supplies and started a batch of cards. It was relaxing and fun!

  26. Wendy on March 17, 2015 at 10:05

    I find playfulness in our choir. How Firm a Foundation becomes the maid-in-form song. A commercial with a good beat and I dance.

  27. Marilyn on March 17, 2015 at 09:25

    Loving theatre and knowing the benefit of playfulness to wellness of body, mind, and spirit, I once incorporated play in a workshop on finding balance in a busy life. I felt disappointed seeing how few of the participants, all women, were able to engage in it. It was almost as if they felt embarrassed to be caught playing.

  28. Kathy B on March 17, 2015 at 08:30

    Just now, as I am preparing materials for class, I find I am humming and whistling a wonderful Taize melody, and playing with the rhythm. And tapping my fingers and toes. And just altogether enjoying it! So, who says Taize has to be only for quiet meditation???

  29. Norm Anderson on March 17, 2015 at 08:25

    Wise words from Br. Jonathan.

  30. Barbara on March 17, 2015 at 08:02

    My spouse is somewhat obsessive — always the same daily routines, the same restaurants, shops, travel routes, etc. Now that I have had to become the sole driver, we sometimes find a new way to/from our destination(s) and we see a new world through new eyes — truly spontaneous worship of the undiscovered beauty around us, on the earth and in the skies. Even he is pleased!

  31. Sarah Acland on March 17, 2015 at 07:36

    Brother Jonathan as Friar Tuck! That’s a lovely picture.

  32. mark on March 17, 2015 at 07:01

    I don’t see that happening today

    • Bob on March 17, 2015 at 18:30

      Come back and tell us if you managed even 5 minutes, perhaps?

  33. Michael on March 17, 2015 at 06:53

    When I go driving, I often decide to take a road I have never been on, or wondered as I have driven by it, where it goes. Sometimes these are great adventures, other times, not so much, but the joy is always in the attempt

    • NA on March 18, 2015 at 07:27

      My Donauschwaben grandfather, my Opa, used to call this kind of driving “Ins Blaue,” which means literally, “into the blue.” What it meant to him was simply driving without an end goal in site, just to explore, to see new things, and to enjoy. It must be genetic since I enjoy that, too, though I like to take my camera along.

  34. Christopher Epting on March 17, 2015 at 06:51

    At our Spring retreat/meeting of the House of Bishops at Kanuga,our worship has been led by the Theodicy Jazz Collective, four extremely talented young adults. The ‘work’ of the people was pretty quickly transformed into the ‘play’ of the people and we were lost in the joy of praising and worshipping our God!

  35. Agatha Nolen on March 17, 2015 at 06:45

    Spontaneity has never been a strong suit of mine, but a friend who gives gifts “for no special reason” has convinced me of the pleasure of the unplanned.

  36. Karen on March 17, 2015 at 06:32

    I get lost when playing (sitting around talking, laughing, playing games) with my closest friends. I mostly feel like I can let go a little because I trust them. I think that if you don’t trust those around you, it’s much harder to ‘play’ in a way that allows you to get lost.
    I don’t, however, find the Eucharist a playful time. It’s not solemn and sad to me, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a time of playfulness.

  37. John David Spangler on March 17, 2015 at 06:20

    I have just finished saying, as a part of my morning prayers, “A Morning Resolve” which is printed inside the front cover of “Forward Day by Day”. A most important part of the resolve is when I say that I will try to live the day “cultivating cheerfulness”. As Brother Jonathan so wisely reminded us, “play time” should always be a part of our journey, rather than being “sad and solemn . . . . talking heads of wisdom and sobriety.”. I too find that, “oftentimes [more often than not] that the liturgy is a time for playfulness, particularly when there’s a spontaneity about it” The liturgy does, indeed, draw “it all together into a spontaneous act of joy. Losing ourselves in the moment: that’s to play.”. It is an act beyond amusement and happiness. It is joy. May we present the Good News with cheerfulness rather than as talking heads feigning wisdom with sadness, solemnity, and sobriety.
    Thank you, Brother Jonathan. Peace!

  38. Muriel on March 17, 2015 at 03:28

    Moments of spontaneity are great , like when you decide to go for a walk and enjoy the sunsine instead of getting a chore done or watching a movie when you should be doing something else. Spontaneous laughter is great too especially when teaching a class and someone says something funny. This has happened in church too when someone pops up with a genuinely funny comment and we all share in laughter and joy.

  39. Tracy on March 16, 2015 at 20:04

    Someone made us laugh tonight – a group of us – I hadn’t laughed like that for a while. I think we were all lost in a moment or two together. It was great!

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