Guenther: More Play


“Often what we call “play” is competitive or compulsive, because the aesthetic dimension of true play, its holy uselessness, goes against our grain.”
 Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction

Youth table at Christmas dinner

Youth table at Christmas dinner

Holy uselessness. What a grand term for those of us who are driven. When I think of holy play, I think of just sitting, not reading or knitting, or thinking about my to do list, just sitting. (Some friends this morning reminded me that they did not want to be on my to do list.) Holy listening, holy uselessness can be just looking outside my window watching a breeze come and go and change my horizon. Many find that holy uselessness as they look out over bodies of water or mountains that call to us as icons to see through them or perhaps hear through them a connection to God. Nature changes the synapses, the pathways in our brains. Nature slows down the cerebral traffic.

 Others find holy uselessness listening to music or playing an instrument. Instead of light waves we experience sound waves like soft free-floating harmonic speed bumps slowing down the traffic jam in our head to 2 to 5 miles an hour.

Sitting down on the floor with a young child can be holy uselessness as you try to keep up with them and follow their lead. Here we can become connected so easily to the Christ child in another and connect to the Christ child in each of us.  At your next family dinner, volunteer to sit at the youth or children’s table and just listen. You will find a whole new world, and it will be much more fun.

We usually do not put find holy uselessness on our to do list. The best part of holy playtime is that we can follow this spiritual practice anywhere, any time. It can change our life.