The Spiritual Practice of Play
Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
I wonder if this month’s theme has stirred you to ask: “what constitutes play in my own life?” Do you play? Are you playful? And, maybe most importantly, how has play changed across the years of your life?
In this month’s New Horizons, I included Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan’s “properties of beneficial play,” from their book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Are there moments in your life when you undertake activities that include these properties?
- Apparently Purposeless – done for its own sake
- Voluntary – not done for duty or obligation
- Inherent Attraction – fun, exciting, the opposite of boredom
- Freedom from Time – causes you to lose track of the passage of time
- Diminished Consciousness of Self – forget outer self, be in the now
- Improvisational Potential – invites serendipity and novelty
- Continuation Desire – reluctance to disengage from the fun
For most of us, I’m guessing that it’s rare. So, how do we bring more play into our lives? How can we understand the playful aspects of our lives, even as our definition of play has likely changed as we’ve gotten older? How can we embrace play, even when we’re not feeling particularly playful? I ask, and will ask again on Sunday, because play can be a significant part of a spiritually fulfilling life, opening us to creativity, to joy, and to life itself.
I’m looking forward to another playful Sunday, and hope you are, too.
In faith and love,