About Playing

Dear Bryce,

I want you to know that you’ve been doing a great job at life. Watching you grow this year has been a lesson to me. You love to play. Your mother said once that you lived to play. That still fits.

But you are such a good student. You do all your homework and usually finish it quickly so that you can play. Your teachers and we your parents have some difficulty keeping you from all that play when nobody else is ready to play. Even with those, there’s part of me that never wants you to stop playing. I want you to find a way to keep playing, to live playfully.

Part of me wants to say, when we’re at the table about to eat, before we pray, that we must be reverent. And part of me wants to edit myself and find a way to explain to you that all of prayer is playful. That the two in the eyes of the Divine are the same. I want to tell you that if you can balance living and playing, then you’ve lived well. I want to tell you to be as responsible as possible, to be as strong and generous as possible, and to do all of those without compromising play. I want you to be able to consistently revile in life, to be about playing, and to do so without compromising all those other important things.

It is a succinct picture of Sabbath. It is a simple way of expressing joy. It is pure and honest and descriptive of your personality. It is, in a sense, who you are. That is both frightening for the stark clarity that is you and enlivening because it is a kind of complete integrity on display.

I want you to play. In some ways, son, that’s all I want you to do. Perhaps the best thing I can tell you is to find a way to always play. To get the other stuff done. To do the homework. To clean your room. To get all those things “out of the way” so that you can do what you love, do what you live to do.

Perhaps it’ll take me a few years to fine tune my message, to figure out how to present that lesson to you well. Right now, you’ve got the playing thing down. I hope you never lose it. I hope in my efforts to father you that I don’t hamper it. And I hope you keep teaching me this year and that I learn a bit more about play.


Blog Break

I will be away from the blogging habit for a while.  I hope to fill in posts during the next year with a monthly rant at a minimum.  I’ll be writing a lot of non-public writing as part of the residency in clinical pastoral education.  And between my other classes, a new peer group, and church work, I won’t be able to give you access to my scattered ramblings on the blog.

I did have other hopes.  But my limits are clear.

Take care until later, blog of mine.

A Prayer For All Our School Starts

O God, you know “our ends from our beginnings” as my elders used to say.  You know our downsittings and our uprisings.  Our futures belong to you.  Our futures are with you.

Look ahead into this year and bless us with all the growth that would make you look good and make us look more like who we really are.

You know that this year will have shifts for us, changes to our schedules, and that we’ll need you, it seems, more than before.  We submit to you and how you’ll work through the long pulling that will come.

Call us and speak to us and journey with us.  Live in and through us so that we might bring light into darkness.

Give us grace that we might be full of love.  May our days begin and end with you and be punctuated by love and grace.

Where we will learn to write this year, give us ready pens and appointed words.  May the strokes coming from our fingers spell words that cause ourselves and others to flourish.

Where we will learn to count this year, make us ready to notice things, to add things to our lives what you bring and to patiently suffer through any subtraction for the loss it will be.

When we learn to work with others, make us prepared and mature enough to reconcile, to be humble, to practice silence even if it’s only holding that last word or that convincing, if sharp, retort.

When we listen, slow us down and open us to be so generous that what things people say and write and live become gifts which we cherish and steward and protect.

And finally, may you grant us these particulars:

That Bryce may have a fun year, one full of learning leaps like last time, loving his teachers and developing friendships with his classmates and collecting all those good words we say about him as a brilliant, beautiful, beloved boy.

May you grant Dawn the repeated remarkable brilliance of all her previous courses, giving her the steady help she needs as she prepares and sits for her comprehensive exam.

May you go with me daily into the learning rooms of the seminaries, into the peer work and ministry in the hospital, and into the regular course of growth that is my church ministry.

May we labor for you and with you and may we be marked with memorable moments we’ll never forget.  Will you change us for the better, sweetening me, preserving the best natures of my wife and son, and turning us continually toward you as a family.

For us all, give us an abiding sense of your presence, reminders of your unfailing nature, comments and signposts along each path that you are active, boldly bringing about healing for people, growth in us, and justice for the world.