Wondering Wednesdays- adding play time

It was so joyful watching these birds splashing in the rock pool, it looked so much fun!

I am exploring habits to get into this new year and playing more is one of them. I want the creativity, joy and freedom that comes with play.

Healthy rhythms are important to me, particularly when I find myself slipping into unhealthy ones at times and when something becomes a habit it is more rooted in my life and more likely to stick.

#rhythm #habit

Friday photo – play time!

I learn so much sitting looking out into my garden.

This picture is from early yesterday morning, two young birds having fun splashing around.

I love what looks like carefree, playing, no regard for what others are doing or thinking.

Playing is so good for me, no agenda, no expected outcomes, go with the flow.

I need a little more play in my life!

I wrote this and then played with colour to start a new journal!

When and how do you play?

Friday photo – breaking the ice

This was me out playing last Saturday, breaking the ice in puddles as we walked in the park. I didn’t quite have the abandon to jump in the puddles like I see small children do and the delight on my face was probably a little more masked than theirs would be.

It was much safer for me breaking the ice than walking on ice, much less danger of slipping and falling – something that is not wise at my age!

Saturdays are my day off, my play day, and I think I need to learn to play a little more, to recover some of the childlike fun that I remember from long ago. We never grow out of playing, but sometimes we don’t let ourselves live and enjoy the moment as we might. On my next walk I will look at how I might play a little more and experience that joy again.

#play #joy

Friday photo – the Black Pearl

The name was the least creative thing about this boat for me. We saw it on the sea front in New Brighton last Saturday. It is made of what looks like driftwood and provides so much scope to play and have fun pretending to be a pirate or an explorer or anything you want! My memories of piratea always bring me back to Peter Pan, one of the first pantomimes I ever saw. I love the Spielberg Hook version too with a very feisty Tinkerbell! Happy childhood memories can help sustain or nurture us throughout our lives and I am grateful for those who have the vision to try to create places and things that are special for children to play with.

Honest Christianity – childlikeness

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This last week Sally and I were at Mill Grove (http://www.millgrove.org.uk/) for a meeting of the Child Theology Movement.   For a long time I have been interested in theological perspectives on children and am delighted when I find books and articles that take my thinking forward.  There is one such article in the current edition of the International Journal for Children’s Spirituality written by Robyn Wrigley-Carr which talks about ‘Proclaiming and cultivating ‘childlikeness’:  a subversive thread in Christian anthropology.  There is a reference to the Child Theology Movement in the article but also to some theologians from much further back.  I was particularly taken with these reflections:

In the midst of increased urbanisation and the frenzy of population growth in many of our cities, we all, children and adults alike, need green spaces for play and rest, so we can be humanised, for something essential regarding what it is to be human when we become dominated by  technology and the built environment and don’t have time to be still and quiet – attentive to creation, to ourselves and to the Divine…

In addition to this immersion in creation, we all need rest, for when we work incessantly, we lose our ability to play which is a childlike attribute.  Alongside playfulness, when we are constantly busy working, our weariness makes us unaware of our ‘unawakeness’, our lack of attentiveness to our surroundings and to ourselves.  But getting off the conveyer belt of activity and rush, escaping the demands of email and mobile phones in the wonder and spaciousness of creation can bring forth this ‘childlikeness’ as we reflect upon what is happening in our lives as we encounter the Divine.

The picture is the garden at Mill Grove complete with toys – when is our next opportunity to play?

Vol 23(1) p45-52

Wondering Wednesdays – the value of play

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This is a holiday week so blogging about play seemed apt. I have had a growing appreciation of the value of play as an adult, largely due to some of my colleagues who are passionate about it! Thanks Dawn and Sian. Thus I was drawn to a book called Playful Awakening. Early on in the book she lists the six key elements of play and the related words – this appeals to me as sometimes I spend a lot of time looking at a thesaurus to try and find the right word.
Anticipation: interest, openness, readiness, expectation, curiosity, desire, exuberance, wonderment
Surprise: appreciation, awakening, stimulation, excitement, discovery, arousal, thrill, astonishment
Pleasure: satisfaction, buoyancy, gratification, joy, happiness, delight, glee, fun
Understanding: tolerance, empathy, knowledge, skill, insight, mutuality, sensitivity, mastery
Strength: stamina, vitality, devotion, ingenuity, wit, drive, passion, creativity
Poise: dignity, grace, composure, ease, contentment, fulfilment, spontaneity, balance

I wonder which of these I will experience this week, hopefully all of them!

Di Gammage Playful Awakening London Jessica Kingsley 2017 p52 {c) The Strong

Friday photo – play at all times

play

An apt picture for a week like this one. I took this last Saturday at IKEA struck by the importance of it. Yesterday I was doing a bit of teaching on human development with Chaplains at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and we looked at how an understanding of theory informed the work we did with them. We talked about the importance of play as a way of processing so much of the experience, of how interventions might enable children to work towards the positive element of Erickson’s conflicts and how action, image and symbol can be significant at different stages of development. A high 5 is more than just a bit of fun…

Friday photo – me Jane!

tree house

Tarzan was one of those programmes I used to enjoy as a child and when we came across this tree house in the wood it brought back lots of memories. We were at Moseley Old Hall and there was this big sign up saying that the tree house was for adults to play in too. That is very liberating when you are a middle aged couple without kids looking longingly at this wonderful creation!

I had great fun exploring and sitting on the top level on a seat made of branches and then it was time to come down. Paul dared me to come down via the rope – nearly a mistake as my fingers turned bright red with rope burn! My muscles couldn’t quite hold my weight to climb down gracefully so I just slid! Fast and fun but left me with blisters! As ever I also began making connections with my spiritual life and thought back to Paul’s post on Sunday – the practices I engage in most days do give me the strength to do the spiritual equivalent of sliding down the rope – that makes it easier to take a risk.

Friday photo – wisdom and play

year 3 leaving

I love this year’s MCYM leaver’s photo (sadly a couple of people are missing from it including Paul whose country needed him!) the bouncy castle is the perfect background for it.  There is a lot of wisdom represented in this picture – we as staff have learnt from our students as they have learnt from us and we have all learnt from God.  However, along the way there has been a lot of play too and I love the way that these two images are found together in the Bible.  I explored this a bit in a chapter I wrote for a new book:

Wisdom as she is seen in Proverbs 8 can be seen as both playful and maternal which perhaps offers a useful contrast to those who may associate the word ‘wise’ with being sensible, boring and grown up. So in pursuing wisdom we are building on our capacity to play. As Brown (2012) argues that if we see Wisdom in the image of the child then it underscores the primacy of play in wise living and wisdom’s authority is ‘creative, enlivening, and formative as much as it is normative’ (2012, p.32) as well as ‘intimate and nurturing’ (2012, p.36).

References:

Nash, S. Being a Reflective Practitioner and Lifelong Learner – Pursuing Wisdom and Fruitfulness in S. Nash, J. Whitehead (eds) Christian Youth Work in Theory and Practice. London: SCM, 2014.
Brown, W.P. ‘Wisdom and Child’s Play: Proverbs and Paideia’ in K.E. Lawson (ed) Understanding Children’s Spirituality. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2012.

 

Messy beauty

Hedgerow

One of my favourite  childhood memories is walking down country lanes looking at wildflowers with my Grandma.  The hedgerows that we used to walk along are long gone as is my Grandma but she shared her knowledge and passion with me and a bit of her now lives on in me.  I live less than a mile away from Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham so hedgerows are not part of my regular walks from home but this week I have been staying in a village for a study week. Late in the afternoon we have been going for a walk and again I have been struck by the beauty of hedgerows.  But hedgerows are not neat and orderly, they are not well manicured, they are messy but they have an amazing beauty.  This week hedgerows containing primroses, bluebells and violets with a few dead leaves, twigs, and bits of grass boundaried the footpath.

A lot of time I live with such messiness.  When I look at my life there are lots of almost competing elements, some bits struggling to grow, things that have died and need to be cleared up, things that are growing, in blossom or just waiting to flower not to mention the ever lurking ivy with its potential to choke the growth of other plants.  When I looked at the hedgerow and took this picture I almost missed the fragile little violet. I need to regularly reflect on my life and take notice of what the violets might be, what I might be missing unless I look closely. Sometimes it might be a person, other times a task, a post on a social networking site I need to respond to, or it could even be that I just need to spend some time just looking. I love playing with metaphors and they help me to reflect on and understand what God is doing in my life and today messy beauty is an image I want to dwell on.