by Christine Sine
It’s official, Seattle has accumulated more February snow than any time since 1916. Last Saturday we all woke to a beautiful white winter wonderland, we pulled out our sleds and went off to have some fun. We weren’t the only ones. The local park was full of families sledding, skiing, snowshoeing and walking. I came home refreshed, renewed and revived.
I cannot remember the last time I took a whole day for play like this. It is sad that it takes such a rare event for many of us to get out and have some fun. Yet according to Stuart Brown of the National Institute for Play nothing lights up the brain like play. He believes it is as important as oxygen for our survival and may be God’s greatest gift to humankind. (The Gift of Wonder 54) Not just to humankind but to dogs too as you will see in this short video I put together (more fun for me). enjoying the snow with community members Dan and Lisa and my dog Goldie – she makes a great sled dog!
As I reflected on this I was reminded of what I had read in David Whyte’s Consolations just a couple of days before. He is talking about the feeling of being besieged but I am using it here in a broader sense
Being besieged asks us to begin the day not with a to do list but a not to do list, a moment outside of the time bound world in which it can be reordered and reprioritized. In this space of undoing and silence we create a foundation from which to reimagine our day and ourselves.
Beginning the daily conversation from a point of view of freedom and being untethered calls us to re-see ourselves, to re–enter the world as if for the first time (David Whyte, Consolations 28)
Snow forced me to do this.
- My not to do list embraced all the things I planned to do on Saturday – no gardening, no swapping that out for other hard work, no getting caught up in what I though still needed to be done, but allowing myself to let go of all I had intended and enjoy the wonder of this rare snow day in Seattle. We began the day with a community waffle breakfast. We had planned this to be a rather hurried pre-gardening event but it was such fun to sit round the table with all the members of our small community, enjoying the fun of each other’s presence. Yes we did talk about what we would like to see happen in the garden but it was fun, not work.
- Reimagine our day and ourselves – I am not just created for work. I am created to enjoy God and to have fun, laugh, play and delight in the joy of being alive. Delight in the unexpected, let the joy of God fill you through the wonderful experiences that unfold.
- Begin in freedom and untethered. What do we need freedom from? As I thought about last Saturday I realized how easily I could have spent the day fretting about the things I couldn’t do. I could have lived in the guilt of not doing what I originally planned. I would have been frustrated and miserable. My frustrations would have created walls that stopped me enjoying the rich experience God had planned for me and the prayer above would not have bubbled up inside.
Unfortunately as I look out after a week of snow and with the promise of more on the way, I am very aware that it is not fun for everyone. This important article tore at my heart. Not only have people suffered the hardship of lost work hours and electricity, but for vulnerable kids the loss of school lunches means the loss of their one nutritious meal for the day. Being untethered however enables me to reflect on this and reach out to help those with this unexpected burden.
What Is Your Response?
Think about your own day. What would happen if you started with a “not to do” rather than a “to do” list? What might you end up doing? Who might you end up helping? How could you discover the freedom of being untethered and of reimagining your day and yourself as a child of God, made to enjoy the God of all creation and delight in the things that delights God’s heart.
Lord help us to live untethered lives, not restricted by our preconceived ideas of what we should do each day. Open our eyes to see the freshness of each new day and the opportunities for unexpected delights to emerge.