One of my most memorable dates happened at a seafood restaurant. I’d never eaten lobster, and it was obvious. I coped by being playful: cracking jokes, acting silly. My date chimed in, and we were having a great time. Then my hand slipped. Food flew right into his face. Even when the rest of the food had dropped down to the table and floor, he still had one damp kernel of corn stuck to his forehead. Believe it or not, we got a laugh out of that, too. Believe it or not, he even asked me out again.
“Playfulness can redeem just about anything. Imperfections and mistakes are okay when we’re playing.”
Sometimes I think that playfulness can redeem just about anything. Imperfections and mistakes are okay when we’re playing. Children at play are learning and getting new experiences. We give them space to fumble. When adults do things in a playful spirit, we give each other permission to fumble, too.
“There’s a certain playfulness among people who come together with all the crazy parts of our lives and try to figure out how we’re going to live with ourselves and with each other.”
Willingness to run with imperfection is one thing I love about playfulness, and it’s something I love about spirituality, too. For all the rules and regulations we may associate with organized religion, my experience with people of faith is that a lot of us are coming together to figure out how to handle life. Mistakes, conflicts, suffering, the curve balls that surprise and frustrate us – there are so many things in life that would never in a million years count as “right.” Yet, there’s a certain playfulness among people who come together with all the crazy parts of our lives and try to figure out how we’re going to live with ourselves and with each other: neighbors, strangers, and even the divine.
I suspect this 17th year of the Spirit & Place Festival will be my favorite one yet since the entire week of November 2 – 11, 2012 will be devoted to the theme of ‘Play.’ On November 3rd, it will be our pleasure at Christian Theological Seminary to welcome Carrie Newcomer, Phil Gulley, Scott Russell Sanders and Krista Detor for the show Miracles, Myths, Lyrics and Lies, a humorous study in story and song of the playful side of spirituality. Believe me: between now and then, I’ll be doing my best to live up to this year’s theme!