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.