Maria Thompson’s comments on my post earlier about my koala dream and the playful nature of God, reminded me of the Hindu concept of lila (or someties leela) which means the playful creativity of God. It is a concept that Stephen Nachmanovitch discusses in his wonderful book titled Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts. He explores the ways in which the delights of improvised art are doorways to the delights to be found in everyday life. He is essentially talking about the practice of play as essential to the Sacred Art of Living, with which I wholeheartedly agree. I only wish there were a similar equivalent term for lila in Christianity or Judaism.
What might taking the playfulness of God seriously really mean? (a bit of an oxymoron I realize!) Do we allow God to be spontaneous and creative, letting go of preconceived ideas of how things should be, taking joy in the simple acts of improvised and undisciplined play? I hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about “God’s Plan” but I have never been comfortable with that kind of language, usually because such talk seems to revoke our freedom and has God micro-managing every last corner of the universe. I am far more satisfied to imagine a God who allows creation to unfold moment by moment, being guided by the profound love and care which is of course, God’s very nature. How might allowing God (and ourselves) this kind of spontaneity and freedom impact our spiritual practices?
Because it is so hard as adults for us to make time to play, I believe that everyone should have an adult play group of their very own. Maybe this means participating in some of our programs like the Monthly Gatherings when they start again in the fall, if you are in the Seattle area. Maybe this means joining Betsey Beckman’s fabulous SpiritPlay class once a month or one of the many other InterPlay workshops offered around Seattle and the country. Maybe this means just gathering together some friends for regular playtime, just for the pleasure of it. Remember recess at school? What if our faith communities had adult playtime built into all of their other programming?
Wanna come out and play?
~Christine Valters Paintner