In today’s intense world where
… alternative facts masquerade as truthful statements;
… Executive Orders bring confusion and fear; … outrage is commonplace
… inner peace is quickly disappearing;
… concerns and fears about compromised health, terrorism, disasters
broken relationships, economic crises, political harangue and other stressors,
bring confusion, frustration, anger, and fear,
a Spirituality of Play may seem to be a curious matter.
But, more than ever, a Spirituality of Play
is an attitude that needs to be cultivated
… in society
… in educational systems
… in families
… by seniors, adults and children / youth so they can become adults who live balanced lives where laughter, joy and hope are intrinsic
throughout their adult life.
From the Greek word selig (which means blessed) comes the English word silly
and I like to think that there is something sacred about
the ability, to be silly, to play, to laugh, to be child-like.
Many faith traditions
… e.g. Christian and Hasidic storytellers, Zen masters, Taoist sages
encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously. These prophets have an important role in the spiritual life
because they espouse the spiritual practice of play
as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “It is a happy talent to know how to play” and as author Margaret Guenther wrote
“When we play, we also celebrate holy uselessness.
Play, in its disinterestedness and self-forgetting, can be fruitful.”
When we play,
when we enjoy the fullness of life with its curiosities, frivolities and insensibilities,
when we don’t take ourselves too seriously
… we pray, and like prayer, laughter and play can be healing,
… healing to the body, mind and soul.
When Hindus speak of the creation of the universe,
they don’t call it the ‘work’ of God; they call it the ‘play’ of God
which can translate into ‘play’ being sacred and holy
for when we play, we leave behind the daily stressors
and allow our spirit to breathe and re-create.
Literature, the arts and holidays remind us
of the importance of play
… of giving ourselves permission to be silly and foolish: Russian artists from the 15th century often featured the yurodivy … a kind of “holy fool” in their paintings. April Fool’s Day is a day for laughing
… for playing kind and gentle jokes and for trying to trick friends. On the last day of the nature festival ‘The Hill’ in India,
people have fun by sending friends on impossible errands
such as finding a stick with only one end.
In Native American traditions, Coyote is the Trickster;
in the Aztec tradition, Coyote is referred to as ‘God’s Dog’;
and in Hollywood, Wil E. Coyote always played tricks on the Roadrunner.
A Spirituality of Play helps us live
with mystery, paradox and absurdity.
It can open doors of flexibility, intuition, vulnerability,
and doors of child-like innocence and spontaneity.
If we can believe that the Creator created
anteaters, duck-billed platypuses, giraffes
clownfish, pink flamingoes, and us (!),
surely it’s not surprising that the Creator
has a great sense of humour
and encourages us to laugh
– and play!
My beloved husband Hans van der Werff was 85 (!) years young
when I took this photo of him playing with bubbles in a local park.
Hans was a pen and ink artist, calligrapher, retired engineer
who understood the importance living a life incorporating
a Spirituality of Play.
With all the snow that’s recently unexpectedly arrived,
a decision to change the cover photo for the Soulistry FB as well as personal FB page
… with photos of birds perched on trees in our back yard
… and this link to Alexey Kjatov’s incredible photographs of snowflakes http://www.treehugger.com/…/macro-photos-snowflakes encouraged reflection on the question: “If there is no Divine Being how is it such intricate mathematically-exquisite shapes can come into existence … and there be no two shapes alike?”
That question prompted ponderings on the possibility that
Divine/Creator/God/Holy Other not only
but that what is happening in the world
does not mean
the end of the existence of humankind
as some are suggesting.
While I respect the opinion of others to believe as they believe
I can only conclude in the existence of Something-Other-Than
and continue to
… marvel at the created order;
… be in awe of the miracles I see every day;
… be grateful for the selflessness, generosity of spirit, loving kindness in the world;
… appreciate the courage and tenacity of those who speak/act for the voiceless;
… believe in the connection between creativity/creation and spirituality
And no, I’m not talking about religion.
The thought of “Something-Other-Than”
by whatever name
… Holy Other
touches me at a very, very deep level.
What lies ‘down the path’ for women, Mexicans,
Muslims, Jews, minorities, people with disabilities?
What lies ‘down the path’
for the world?
We can conjecture. We can imagine.
We can look to history and remember the past
We can do what we can so that mistakes are not repeated.
We can hope.
We can pray.
We can ponder.
We can ask questions such as:
Is the unchartered territory ‘down the path’ going to make one country “great again” … at the expense of 99% of its citizens … at the expense of other countries
Is ‘down the path’ a slide down the rabbit hole into the chaos of Alice in Wonderland’s tea party?
Are the tall, dark trees down the path … barrier? … protection?
We may think there is nothing we can do.
But there is.
… find others to walk ‘down the path’ with us
… create signs and post them along the path
… remove the trees – the barriers – to create open space of thought and relationship
And we can
… refuse to go down the path.
The cost of the decision
… could be great,
But to *not* go down the path … to stand by and do nothing
… to adopt a “que sera, sera” attitude
… to believe that all of this is “God’s will”
(It is not, if one believes in a God of love who not only expects
but requires followers to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God”
gives power to FEAR which “serves as blinders to what may be
just a few steps down the road for you.”
Taking the first step
… going further ‘down the road’
for ourselves or for others
could be transformational.
It’s our call
for the future
of that of our children
and generations yet to come.
There really isn’t a choice for me
when recognizing that we and future generations
need to live in a society
… where air, water, soil are not polluted
… where people can shop, be transported, walk freely
… where the letter “c” for compassion and concern
undergird health systems and no one is bankrupt for medical/dental care
… where justice and mercy are not just words but are guides
for humane treatment of human beings and animals
… where truth really is truth and not alternate truth
… where disagreements are settled by dialogue and not war
… where children and youth are well-educated
and where integrity is not only
… expected of leaders
but is experienced
… and modelled for children and youth to emulate
in coming generations.
Why do we focus on that which separates?
Why do we dwell on differences?
Surely, regardless of
… geographical location
… sexual identity
… financial status
… birthing order
… sexual preference
… colour of skin, eyes, hair
… etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.,
we are more similar than different?
When we bleed
… our blood is red. When we feel pain
… it hurts.
When we smile
… it’s the same language.
There is more that brings us together
… than keeps us apart.
While we recognize and acknowledge our differences
… which make us unique
let us celebrate our similarities,
… which bring us together.
Thank you, Asger Lethfor of Denmark
for your lovely video: “Three Beautiful Human Minutes”
(link is below) that just “happened to show up” on my FB feed shortly
three times (!)
before I clicked “publish” of this Soulistry blog post.Serendipitous?
The semantics of it isn’t important to me.
The essence of this blog post
– and the video are.May we never forget that
there is more that brings us together
than separates us.
Many Canadians have been and continue to be deeply troubled
by the growing fear and hatred in our neighbours to the south.
Phrases such as “It wouldn’t happen here”
… “Discrimination is not part of the Canadian ideology”
… “Religious intolerance is not part of who we are”
… Hatred is not part of our history
are often spoken with deep compassion and concern
for countries where such things are happening.
And then it happened here.
inside a Mosque in Quebec last night, people were praying.
Before they realized what was happening,
people lay dead and injured
and Canadians are beginning to realize that
… it is happening here
… there is discrimination in this country
… religious intolerance exists.
… hatred has been and continues
And yes, terrorism happens here, too.
Is any place safe these days?
… schools are not.
… universities are not.
… hospitals are not.
… marathons are not.
… sport events are not.
… homes are not.
… religious buildings are not.
… shopping centres / malls are not.
And the fear grows.
And the intolerance spreads.
And the hatred grows.
And the finger-pointing escalates,
And the “us and them” language develops its own life.
And in the midst of it all,
… weddings happen
… lives are celebrated
… babies are conceived
… lives are extended because of medical intervention
… children laugh and play
… elders share their wisdom and experience,
… musicians and photographers and dancers and painters and thespians and calligraphers
and potters and activists and weavers and chefs and carpenters and fabric artists
and knitters and landscape artists and writers and …
continue to awaken the creative spirit
continue to touch the soul
continue to inspire the mind.
We can choose whether we focus on the negative and the frightening
or we focus on the positive and the hopeful, the joyful.
We can choose to see ourselves
entering the birth of the tomb
or entering the birth of the womb.
Do we allow events such as
… the attack this day in Ste. Foy, Quebec
… decisions being made by the incumbent leader of the country to the south
focus our attention on the death knell of life?
Or do we let those events and decisions motivate us
so that we get involved
and anticipate new life emerging from the struggles?
My spirit grieves for what has happened in my country this day:
… for the lives that were lost
… and for the lives that have been grievously changed as a result.
May the souls of the departed, rest in peace
and may we not give away our ability to choose whether or not
we will face each tomorrow
with hopeful expectation/anticipation
… even if it is only
Just A Little Bit.