by Barbara Magnuson


Every child knows what summer means –  bike riding, swimming, games of tag, frogs to catch, flowers to pick. In a single word – playPlay leads to wonder and laughter and growth. It is sad that many adults have forgotten what children know, that play is an essential part of life. As a result – seldom is our play and rare is our wonder.

Do you play?

In the intense days of ministry, when ‘they did not even have a chance to to eat’, as Mark writes in Chapter 6 of his gospel, Jesus encourages his disciples to come away to a quiet place and get some rest. Rest involved more than just catching up on sleep. Rest involves a time to stop, to step away and renew our spirits.

Summer may be a time for vacations but rarely are even those days days of rest and renewal. Our activities may change but our pace continues or even increases. We do more, but seldom do we rest and play.

Listen to the wisdom of our children:

Mom, come over here and look at this flower.

Dad, let’s play tag.

Let’s go for a walk.

Let’s play catch.

How many ants are in this ant hill? Let’s count them.

Can we read a book? Can we read it again?

So what is play? Here is the loose definition we use in our lives. Play is an activity that serves no seeming purpose. Yet play moves us out of the world of endless activity into a time and space for rest and renewal.

Do you remember Jesus’ words to His disciples when they were preventing the children from coming to Him?

Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.  Mark 10:14-16

In the intense adult world of pace and pressure, could Jesus be saying to his disciples, as well as to us, make time for the wonder, for innocence, and for play.

One of my favorite quotes is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees (and plays) takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

It’s summer! Make time to play! Do the unusual, the fun, the memory-making events, the activities that you never get around to doing. It just might be the best summer ever.

As Larry and I have entered the phase of grandparenthood, we are realizing the joy of playing again! In so many ways our grandchildren are our teachers.

By the way, this also is one of our key themes during a SonScape retreat . . . because Christian leaders need to play.