Our Creative Space for Restful Play

We used to sing the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” But perhaps we should be singing, “Take time to be human.” Or finally, “Take time.” Sabbath is taking time … time to be holy … time to be human.
― Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now

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It’s just a foosball game, but it’s a foosball game. I feel a little nostalgic as I twist the handles back and forth. Inadvertently, one of my stiff players kicks the ball into my own goal over and over. Kyle grins big as he adds point after point to his scoreboard.

This is restful play. Planned, intentional time to be spontaneous.

Scheduled hours to do nothing.

Or whatever.

We’re at an AirBnB condo on a pre-Christmas family weekend. In the upstairs loft, this nostalgic game of foosball captivates our nine-year old son’s attention. The quick round I play with him is nothing compared to the extended tournament he and his dad engage the next morning. From downstairs, I hear trash talk and foot stomping. I feel a rush of cold air from a door someone opened to mask the unmistakable odor of man sweat. They failed.

The little getaway is a decision to rest and play.

We escape for 36 hours, pay a few hundred bucks, stay under a different roof, eat at new places, see a fresh city, and do things we wouldn’t normally do at home.

Mini-adventures stand firm as one of our family’s spiritual practices. We engage in activities we don’t have at home—things which get us out of our heads, our shoulds and to-do’s, lists and responsibilities.

We step out of comfort zones. We learn flexibility, grace, togetherness and trust, in each other and God. Maybe it’s not not for everyone, but for my hubs and me (and we hope for the kids), this is fun. Creative space to write whatever story wants or needs to unfold.

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Restful play is more about being human than relaxing.

When we take time off work to rest, either for a few minutes, a full Sabbath day, or a much needed vacation, we halt the endless cycle of productivity and achieving. We reconnect with people, purpose, and ourselves.

Our vicegrip on control? Loosened.

Our agenda for every minute of every day? Shredded.

Our expectations? Obliterated.

Our anxiety? Silenced.

Restful play renews our trust in God’s provision of time and space.

Our whole being opens to a fountain of untapped creative resource because we are present with our bodies and attention. We have time to goof off and let go. We observe, laugh, respond, and think. We remember we are creatures. The world doesn’t rely on our superpowers. Who knew?

A game of foosball may seem like just a game, but I struggle to enjoy my life. I get so wrapped up in tasks I forget to give proper attention to my people and to even take care of myself. Quite often I wonder to myself: what do I love to do? That’s when I know something’s out of order.

I need to take time to be human.

I can’t always get away for the weekend with my family. We don’t even have a foosball table at home. What I’m learning to do instead is to PLAN TIME TO ENJOY MY LIFE.

Making time to be human is one of the most subversive and reverant things a person can do. God made us creatures for rest. Not only are space and time included, but also play, creativity, and pleasure.

What makes you come alive?

It’s one of my favorite questions of all time. My son loves to play games. I enjoy adventures. My husband is building an airplane. Each night he goes into his workroom and plays a little bit on his project, even if he only has five minutes. It’s his intentional discipline of creative discovery. Restful play. This stuff doesn’t just happen like a spontaneous foosball game (although it certainly can). In our busy lives, most of us need to think about it and then accept the invitation.

Writer Trevor Hudson says,

Make a date with yourself and say yes.

I make what-I-enjoy lists. Instead of doing one thing I love monthly or weekly, I try to do it for just a few minutes each day.

Here’s my most recent list:

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  • Take a nap
  • Read theology, a novel, memoir, or poetry
  • Dig in the dirt (AKA as gardening)
  • Travel some place I’ve never been (sometimes a book, photo, or video must suffice)
  • Stay up late
  • Watch a drama or documentary with someone
  • Eat good food in a place with atmosphere
  • Coffee with a friend
  • Research a crazy idea
  • Learn a few words in a new language
  • Browse a used book store
  • Walk through trees or by the lake
  • Pray with a prayer app
  • Do yoga outside
  • Write in my journal with a smelly-good candle nearby
  • Listen to Indie music
  • Play a board game
  • Dance crazily with my kids
  • Cook something from scratch
  • Laugh with my daughter

Over the holiday break, experiment with time you have for restful play. Ask God to show you what makes you come alive. Make time to be human.

Remember, a foosball game is more than just a foosball game. It’s holy.

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December 15, 2018