Monday, June 21, 2010
Playing in God Town
Flickr photo by Express Monorail, creative commons
"All aboard for Skeleton Town!"
My granny's porch swing was a train, and as we chugged along, pumping our legs, the farm, the creek, and the hills became cities full of ghosts and skeletons, werewolves and vampire bats, evil cowboys and mad scientists.
We were brave, of course, so we made plenty of stops. Patricia, the oldest, would pull the brake with her long legs, and Steve and I would dismount for a quick stroll into town (off the porch and around the tree.)
It never went well.
Wouldn't you know it? A witch or a ghost or a family of skeletons was always hiding, waiting to chase us around the pump house, until we'd come screaming back. We'd catch the train just as it was leaving the station, pumping our legs and hollering about the bad guys/skeletons/bats we saw, what their scary faces looked like, and what they'd said they'd do to us if they caught us with their bony fingers.
The second I saw the photo above, I was back on that swing in Kentucky. It's the picture of what summer meant to me as a kid: a time to play pretend, to sprinkle salt on my watermelon and spit out the seeds, to run yelling out of Skeleton Town, and to play Marco Polo in the pool until I was a human prune.
The photo also made me think of the scripture we read at church yesterday.
Zechariah had a message from God to His people, and boy, did they need it.
Fresh out of their captivity in Babylon, they'd straggled back to Jerusalem, to rebuild the town and the temple and try somehow to pull their community back together. Could they do it, as worn out as they were? There were so few of them. Would their efforts ever amount to anything?
God whispered His message in Zechariah's ear.
Oh, how He's been longing to return. Don't they know how He loves them and misses them? He's on the way, so they'd better get ready. Jerusalem is going to be Faithful City again. God Town, perhaps, if you're sitting on my porch swing.
What does God Town look like?
Zechariah paints the picture,
"...Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. 5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.
So God Town's where children play, and old folks sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
Maybe it looks something like this.
Flickr photo by smile its shan, creative commons
Seems like a great place to be, and I bet there's more going on than just hoola hooping.
12 "For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you."
19 “...The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept... are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.
How nice that sounds. But does it have anything to say to us, here in 2010?
What do you think?
For me, it reminds me that I need to stop living as if I'm still waiting for God to arrive. Christ has come and offers me a full life, a life in which I can't fully participate if I'm too busy trying to make the world happy.
What I hear (probably because Becky Ramsey needs to hear it) is that the degree to which I let myself play might be a good measure of how easily I find God's peace. Not that I should throw my work out the window and sit around chanting Einie beanie, Bob Saleenie. But when I'm filling my head completely with lists of things to accomplish, I have no space to hear God's voice.
Maybe a neighbor kid can tutor me.
Aren't kids experts at play? I think it's partly because the world has not corrupted them yet with timetables and responsibilities, forcing them to quit expressing their natural selves. And maybe it's also because they're fresh from the hands of their maker, the Prince of Play. Play is what Eden was all about, right? At least at first it was.
So you want a seat on my porch swing? We can scooch over. There's plenty of room.
Did you play this weekend? Do you think there's a connection between peace and play? Between God and play?
Have a great Monday, y'all!