This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play. –Zechariah 8:4-5 (bold for emphasis)
This past week, our family took a vacation with just the 5 of us. It’s the last one we’ll ever have (and one of the few we’ve taken) before my daughter gets married in April and our family begins to expand. Since her engagement back in September, I’ve experienced the bittersweet joy of helping to plan her bright future and feeling nostalgic for childhood. I miss the days of make-believe and playing with dolls, cars, balls, pots and pans. So much of raising my children involved me getting to play with their toys and entering back into their world of childhood. As they’ve become young adults and no longer need me as a playmate, I forgot that childlike playing remains important at every age. Playtime helps relieve stress, combats jaded thoughts, requires silly laughter. Children don’t carry the responsibility that the adult world forces upon us.
For 5 glorious days, we played. We walked till our feet could go no more … and then we walked some more. Riding amusement rides, singing-a-long with princesses and snowmen, laughing ourselves into exhaustion.
For 5 glorious days, I unplugged from technology–leaving my computer at home and only answering calls and texts from my family in the amusement park wondering where I had wandered off to in the crowd.
For 5 glorious days, our friend who works at the amusement park gave us the tour-guide treatment–telling us fun-facts, allowing us to use her discount at the stores, mapping out our day in the park.
For 2 glorious hours, we relaxed on the beach before our flight home. Digging our toes in the sand, listening to the waves as the tide came in, feeling the 80-degree-sun beat on our skin–knowing at the end of the day we’d be back in land-locked Colorado with temperatures in the teens.
So, as I walked toward the ocean confidently in my airplane-ready outfit with my jeans rolled up so I could dip my feet in the cold Pacific, my mind flooded with memories of the 5 glorious days. Yes, I saw the tide coming in. Yes, I knew the odds that my clutzy ways just might trip me into the waves. Yes, I know you shouldn’t try to outrun a wave on shifting sand when you’re not used to the beach. Yes, I went anyway. The first large wave just took me off-guard and got my pant legs wet. Never deterred, I got up and continued walking. I knew they’d dry before the airport.
Then, the second large wave came with more power, and I tried running uphill …
Without success …
You see where this is going, don’t you? …
I fell on my butt. I would have had time to get up and at least just stand there getting my pant legs more wet; but I was laughing so hard at myself–and everyone else was laughing too!–that the wave just washed all over me. Sand, sea water, denim … there was no way my pants would dry. Looking through my luggage, I realized the drawback to ‘packing light’: I only had shorts and t-shirts. Great for sunny California, not-so-great for snow-packed Colorado. Well, good thing I almost never get cold. So, donned with shorts, a t-shirt and my son’s hoodie, we returned home.
Real life. I heard someone say that we must focus on our mind and the Bible in loving God. I began to lose my 5 glorious days of playfulness. Because, once again, all the silenced voices expressed their defeat to me. The ones who have heard they aren’t smart enough and who struggle with reading the Bible. The ones who experience the heart of God through empathy, but don’t always have a Bible verse to back up what they feel. The ones who passionately and sacrificially serve the poor, but haven’t been to Sunday school and don’t know all the stories. I heard them cry out as the breath was forced from their lungs like a punch in the gut. Because once again, their view of God was less-than. Once again, their piece of the spiritual puzzle wasn’t valued. *sigh*
Perhaps next week I’ll focus on the topic of the Bible’s place in living out the gospel of Christ.
For now, I need to do laundry and maybe rub some sand from my jeans in my hands. For now, I’ll remember the taste of churros and the thrill of roller coasters. For now, I’ll envision my 6’5″ body-building 19 year old wearing the oversized, white, padded mouse hands as we frolicked through the park. For now, I’ll remember the lightness of playing.
For now I am free.
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