I recently was at a meeting with both teens and adults who were planning an event. We had more than enough work to do and could have worked the entire time we were together and still had more to do.
We felt the pressure of each day knowing we had to end at a given time in order to have dinner and then relax for the evening. There were times during the day when we had breaks and some were tempted to work through breaks and lunch partly because we had a lot to do, but I think mostly because we all really enjoyed the work we were doing and were energized by it.
What I realize in looking back on our time together (and what I’ve known for sometime but can forget) is the value of the break, the value stepping away from work no matter how enjoyable, and the value of playing together.
Our society is one that looks highly on productivity and what you have “done” or accomplished. We are constantly proving to one another how much work we are doing by showing how busy we are or complaining about how much we have to do because we are doing so many things.
Don’t get me wrong. I love getting things done. I love being productive and making headway on a project, in fact I sometimes get so caught up in a project that I am hunkered down not paying attention to anything else. But it is in the “anything else” that life happens. It is in these moments that we get inspired, we talk to someone who helps us see things differently, and maybe most importantly we learn how to work together.
In the intensity of our work, in the passion of our work, we have to also play together. In playing together we learn more about one another, we discover one another’s passions and gifts, and we re-create our souls through the play we do together. We find connections to each other better through laughter than possibly anything else.
Playing shapes how communities can respond to one another when something difficult happens, when there are issues to be dealt with, or when you get stuck working on a particular thing. Playing unlocks the creative spirit, it crosses over cultural boundaries, and opens before you the possibilities that seemed light years away only an hour before.
So no matter what program, event, or class you are doing – you need to incorporate play somehow. Invite people to play with scripture and create modern-day stories. Invite them to play with prayer and create new ways of praying. Invite them to play together on the playground, in the city, or in the church basement and then see what creative juices are brought back into the room. Invite people to play, because that often is where the Holy Spirit can be found and that can change the course of everything.
Would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, or questions.