Play, Part One

“There is no better time than summer to consider the importance of play.”

On this week’s podcast, Dan begins a two-week series discussing the nature of play and the importance of embracing play in our lives. To begin, says Dan, it is crucial that we envision play as a fully embodied pursuit, not simply a break or a time free from work.

“Play is often considered to be the contrast or the opposite of the word ‘work.’ What I’m hoping to accomplish is to set out a conversation and definition of play as the way we live out being in the kingdom of God. If your work is not play, that is a good, good picture of living a divided life. If you do not love what you do, if it is not playful, then in many ways you are going to lose a sense of life at work.”

Play is not about distracting us from the work we don’t enjoy. In a way, then, this series is an invitation to think about calling, about how play is woven into every portion of life. This understanding of play goes far beyond mere distraction or escape.

“If we come to a richer and deeper understanding of play, it can change how you go about a day, how you go about living in the decades that you have left on this earth. So I consider this not to be a frivolous topic, but one that is so very central to the gospel.”

Dan refers to Diane Ackerman’s book Deep Play to argue that, similar to nearly every species of animal, play is built into the very core of who we are created to be.

“Play is built into our very fabric. […] There is so much revelation about who we are every time we see how a person plays.”

There are certain elements of play that help us see why it is such a powerful pursuit: problem solving, strategy, risk-taking, an engagement of space and time.

“Games are a way of preparing for what it means to live well, to die well. It is, for all of us, an entry into something that brings our heart palpitation, sweetness, joy, or defeat, a sense of wonder and goodness.”

Before we continue this series next week, Dan recommends taking an inventory of play in your life. What are the games that you enjoy? What activities are a way for you to engage the sweetness in life? Where do you turn to rediscover the goodness, wildness, and playfulness at the heart of God?

“If we allow ourselves to see the playfulness of God, the playfulness of the world, how we are to play in the world, we’ll begin to ask some very hard questions. […] Every day is a play day for me. And as we explore more what play is, may every day become playful for you as well.”