On Sabbath, I sit in the only chair left in the courtyard at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I’m wearing boots and a scarf around my neck while children frolic naked in the fountain.
At my feet, sprawled out on a verdant carpet, four young girls lie in a circle, each head blazing a different shade of red. Flowing burgundy locks to carrot tops, curls sway from felt hats rimmed in black satin ribbon to the middle of black leather jackets. The eldest hunches over a book lying on her lap, legs crisscrossed underneath a long floral skirt; toes of black ballet flats peek-a-boo when she turns pages.
In front of us is an impromptu theatrical gathering of young children splashing in the fountain, hiking pants above kneecaps until the heaviness becomes a nuisance. One boy wades unabashedly in underwear and a striped navy sweater covering his chest.
“Mummy,” a tiny wisp of a girl says like a period at the end of a sentence. And then follows her sibling into inviting waters, slowly, like tiptoeing on gold dust.
Sun is in short supply in London. On this day, people are soaking it up like a dry sponge lying on a countertop, abandoning whatever is on the agenda.
“When eyes are focused on some point far ahead, it’s hard to see the beauty right beside you,” writes Laura Boggess in her new book Playdates with God.
Last May, I decided to do something about that.
On a trip to London for an annual leadership conference, H and I were pregnant with expectancy. God was wooing us with dreams and vision as we walked along crowded city streets, past red phone booths, double decker buses and black taxi cabs. Our hearts were thrumming with culture speaking our language.
When H asked me what I wanted to do with an empty agenda on Sabbath, my response was to sit somewhere inspiring and write in my journal.
Laura writes, “It’s no accident that the word question contains the word quest. When was the last time I gave curiosity free reign? When did I last let myself get lost in wondering, let exploration lead instead of a goal?”
On this day, instead of wandering through a museum or sightseeing somewhere different, I lost myself in watching people give themselves permission to playfully rest. I was completely engulfed in wonder.
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to be still without feeling guilty about it?
“When we let go of a certain outcome – from striving for a certain goal – our imagination is opened up and the years are peeled away, freeing us to wonder,” writes Laura.
Pigeons pad tiny red feet through a dense patch of grass growing beneath me, moving serpentine through collections of people while bobbing heads back and forth. Unlike me, they are unaffected by the number of foreign dialects being spoken.
Laughter sounds the same in any language.
We need to tell better stories with our lives. Stories of love, stories of grace, stories of humility and generosity. That’s what happens when we let go of the world’s standards and accept the invitation to approach God with no agenda, no rules – just the desire to enjoy him. Play. ~Laura Boggess, Playdates with God
As a psychologist and gifted writer, Laura Boggess weaves lyrical storytelling with a wealth of research and concrete details regarding the importance of play in daily life. Playdates with God opens up new vistas on finding wonder and the ways in which doing so creates healthy spiritual landscapes. Whether stagnate in circumstance or in a place of spiritual vibrancy, this book is full of rich thinking on what can be mistaken as a simple subject. You won’t be disappointed. If you want to renew tired thinking and rejuvenate your spirit, these pages are worth turning.
Today I’m giving away one copy of Playdates with God: Having Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World to one person who answers this question in the comments. When was the last time you gave curiosity free reign?
I won’t be sharing my posts on social networking channels daily because who wants to see that much of me, really? If you want to follow our adventure to London subscribe to the blog in the side bar and posts will slide quietly into you inbox. Start from the beginning of the series here.
Oh, Shelly. This. I am re-inspired to let curiosity lead all over again. Thank you for this bit of beauty.
I got an email from someone who said they bought your book because of this post, thanking me because they are loving your book. Yay!!
This just makes my day. Have I said thank you? Again and again I will say it! Thank you for your loving kindness and the beauty that is your friendship!
This past Tuesday, my husband and I decided to explore a botanical garden about an hour away. We love gardens! This one was a true adventure for us, as we had never seen it before. We wandered around eager to see what plants we would find, and sculptures, and butterflies. The rose garden was a treat,a s we stopped to smell quite a few of them, and each smells differently. My curiosity was filled to overflowing! It was a joyful day!
I love plants Janet and finding new varieties. God’s creativity is endless and endlessly inspiring. Your adventure sounds amazing.
Instead of taking the direct, short route between our two farms, I drove miles out of the way, south and east and south again. I was curious what the neighbors’ farms and the county roads looked like this fall. I found purple asters in the ditches, hay bales stacked two-high in a long row, laundry flapping on a clothesline, a tree turned scarlet, sentinel rows of ripening field corn, and wild turkeys on the edge of a woods.
Sometimes I do that on walks Constance. I love meandering down new paths and discovering wonder. It makes the journey sweeter. Thanks for commenting.
It’s been awhile, but this is encouragement to do it more.
So glad this was a nudge for you Susan!
We are newly moved and transitioning into a new ministerial role. I have been trying to stop and be in moments more. I love the idea of letting our imagination and curiosity wander in a positive way. Sometimes I am so busy trying to keep my thoughts in check that I miss the good kind of mind and soul wandering. As always I appreciate your words.
Peggy, I know that tight focus in seasons of transition when you have very little peripheral vision because of all that is right in front of you. But when we take Sabbath and explore wonder, the rest is rejuvenating, isn’t it? Hope you find some time to for imagination to take over soon.
Out of curiosity, I recently attended a live streaming conference (Q Commons) encouraging Christians to think creatively about engaging in culture to advance good. In conclusion, our host pastor challenged the audience to allow “God’s creativity” to use us to influence positive “culture making”. Wow! Allow your curiosity to ponder that!
Yes, I like that Lisa. God is so creative and we only touch a small portion. I love people like Erwin McManus of Mosiac in Los Angeles who are creative thinkers that shape and innovate culture.
Perhaps play is the reason that adults love being grandparents so much. Not only do those precious little ones allow us to see the world through new eyes, but they also give us permission to play dress-up, swing, throw leaves, color, have tea parties, and make mud pies.
My granddaughter and I have a game called “Drive Crazy” that we do safely–no other traffic on our gravel road, seat belts snugged in place, but oh….the delights of laughter to go from one side of the road to the other.
Yes, playing with my granddaughters reminds me to play myself, as did your lovely post, Shelly! Makes me eager to read Laura’s book!
Such a great point and illustration Sheila, I never thought about grandparenting that way but yes, I think you have something there.
Rest has been a recurring theme for me for the past year – I love the idea of Sabbath rest! I think everytime I get into my art studio and paint is a “date with curiosity” – “how will it look if…” is a constant thought…and the last time I was there was last night! Thank you for talking about this book. I think it will be a wonderful resource and I am putting it on my Amazon wishlist just in case I don’t win your contest!
Cindy, I hope you win!
I would have to say it has been too long since I allowed my curiosity to have free reign. I use to let it happen all the time, then life happened. I need to get back to it and soon.
Perhaps this is a nudge for you Melissa, to find some time to play again? I hope so.
Yes, I do believe it was a nudge. Have a bless day Shelly.
I keep a journal, and I so love to sit somewhere inspiring with my favorite pen and journal on hand. Loved this. 🙂
Excited about reading Laura’s book. I love her blog so much.
You would’ve loved sitting there with me Lyli. So much to take in, can’t wait for more of those opportunities.
Last year, my husband and I went further up the mountains to where cell signals stop. Brought books,paints and my camera. This was the last time I was really I rushed and sat still.
10 more days until we do it again.
I need to figure out how to do it more often!
That sounds amazing! An Artist’s Date perhaps?
It has sadly been too long but it is on my to do list this coming Sabbath,
I plan to let the Holy Spirit speak while I sit and listen.
I hope you heard well Marie. He’s faithful to speak when we still and listen.
Wow, that is a tough question, Shelly! Curiosity. I think I have stagnated too long. I’m curious in that I am always reading somethign, but never playing enough…..seeing where that kind of carefree exploration would take me. I thnk I need to read that book! =]
I think you would really enjoy Laura’s book Lynn. I especially loved this chapter I quoted.
Oh this just makes my heart relax with joy! So wonderful! I am spending more intentional time just observing the way creation behaves in it’s element– the sway of trees, the bopping about of bees in my herb garden… my soul just relaxes into being not only an active observer but I sorta become a participant at the same time. I’ve loved this journey with you. Thanks for having us along!
Yes, an observer and participant all at the same time. Love that!
Was away for the weekend, so I guess I missed the giveaway…but it sounds like a great book with challenging questions and encouragement! So important to just sit and enjoy the ordinary, otherwise we miss out on so much beauty!
Just this morning I sat in a quite space and wrote long at a leisurely pace… And I had mused with God my curious questions… I like the word quest in question… On a quest to be taught by Him as He answers these unknowns in my life!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win Laura’s book… I am sure it will bless whoever wins this book!
Visiting a mosaic garden during a recent weekend away, the “set” reminded me so much of Alice in Wonderland. The flowers with metal stems had either tea-pots or cup’n’saucers on top; the wind-chimes hanging from the tree were old tea-pots. The mosaic sofa had a looking glass behind it….it made me begin to search for Alice and the Mad Hatter…..a glorious afternoon of curiosity and imagination, which I absolutely loved. Our inner child needs to play sometimes, right? 😉