Friday, April 11, 2008

Do You Bounce?

The question is…when you hit bottom do you bounce?

If there’s no bounce left in you – you’re toast. Key to my survival in this work/life is the planning for regular escapes. Now, some might say that an escape is an avoidance of reality and therefore less than spiritually “proper”. Those folks are either much stronger than I am – or, they’re kidding themselves.

To be fully human is to desire escape. Escape from the box our minds tend to build up around us that we call “reality”. Over time these boxes become so familiar we think they are real when in fact they are only illusions - mental constructs. Only a good escape into some fantastic other world can get me to give my head a shake and see the box for what it is - comfortable, familiar and illusory. Also, those challenges, annoyances and brick walls that seem so permanent; that seem to be closing in - can definitely benefit from a new perspective.

So, I took a trip in search of soul food. Something to revive my spirits. But before I left I spent an afternoon at the church. We had invited a group of young mothers – all on maternity leave – to come and chat about the future of church. They brought along their babies and toddlers. While four of us looked after the kids, one of us led the conversation with the Moms. Being in a tired and spiritually hungry place, I was glad that someone else led that conversation. I could just hang out with the kids.

One little boy was a big challenge. He was very shy and didn’t want to let go of Mom. I took a couple of big toy cars and started rolling them back and forth down the hallway outside the kitchen where the moms were talking. The noise of the rolling wheels caught his attention and soon he was chasing after them and rolling them back to me. A little girl his age but much bolder came and joined us and soon he was competing with her for turns with the cars. She dragged a big plastic toy bin into the hall and I gave them rides in it dragging the bin up and down the hall.
How inappropriate for a grown man to be spending an afternoon playing with little kids. How inappropriate for a trained professional to be spending valuable time rolling cars up and down the hall.

It was like a tonic for me. It was the challenge of welcoming a new generation into the church – played out on the floor. Their parents are shyly checking out the church. Is this a good place to play? Is it safe? Who are these people and what do they want? That little guy wasn’t really sure he wanted to let go of the safety of mom; the known and the comfortable, and spend his time with these big strangers with their own ideas of what’s a good time.

It was really the little girl that got him warmed up. Before we left they had an intimate moment at the end of the hall. A spontaneous hug and a look into each other’s eyes. The moment arrived and was gone again like a breeze passing. They were just appreciating each other’s company – saying thanks for being here and making this time fun.

That hug was like a holiday for me. A drop of pure joy. I imagine it’s how God feels watching our adult play – when in the midst of our earnest efforts - a moment of fleeting love happens – connects two people, or even a group of people in a sacred moment. A perfume is released into the atmosphere. A glow chases shadows from hearts.

From there I went to a Conference with a group of earnest people. We were gathered to hear important words from an important theologian. We fed our minds with stimulating questions and intellectual tidbits. I was going to tell you all about it here but first I wanted to tell you about that afternoon at the church that turned me around and bounced me back on the path towards the kingdom of God.

I’ll also post my much longer, but very interesting, blog about that Conference.

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