Playdates with God: Beginnings

It looks like rain.
This morning when I drove the boys to school, the morning light played through the cloud cover like fiber optics in the sky and I marveled as a flock of geese flew straight through all that electricity. Our mild winter continues and I can’t help remembering last year at this time…the frosty lid that covered our world and how Playdates with God grew out of the wonder of beauty. I thought you might enjoy reading that first post again…the one where, in the comments, Maureen suggested that very title. Here it is, friends. Happy January…

The sky is as white as these snow-covered fields today and the sallow tiredness of old snow bleeds the color from each moment. My every breath is a question. I cannot shake this restlessness.
I have been so hungry for God these past weeks—devouring book after book, trying on the thoughts of others and shaking off old habits. But the more I read about Him, the more He becomes a deep pool that I gaze into. I cannot fathom the bottom. If I dip my foot into the water, it disappears into a swirl of greens and browns…and what might come up out of those depths is a mystery.
The vastness of it all makes me dizzy and I want to slip my whole self under the surface—sink into this unknown beauty.
It reminds me of childhood, this feeling.
When we were kids, adventure was just a thought away. Each day opened up possibility, unfolding as a series of actions: What do you want to do now? Let’s play outside. There was always the next thing. We spent most of the day at the Black Spot. Thus named because it was what was left of a patch of strip mine. Whatever treasure was lifted out of the earth there left a stark, flat surface covered with black sand and pieces of slate. It was our favorite place to ride bikes because of the ease of pedaling on the flatness of it. There we would set up jumps with cinderblocks and old pieces of found wood and there we learned how to fly. When our legs grew weary of pedaling, we would park our bikes and tap patterns of holes into the slate flats with old rusty nails. The slate also made excellent blackboards and we would scratch words onto the grey surface with pointed stones.
Other days we would pick the milkweed pods that encroached upon the Black Spot and make intricate mud pies with feathery icing. The creek at the bottom of the hill provided the liquid to turn the black soil into batter. We would poke sticks down into the cakey mess and sprinkle delicate seeds on top. In the summer, raspberry bushes pushed up against the barren black and, rather than waste them on our inedible concoctions, we put those round bits of reddish flesh to better use.
My brother’s trailer now sits where the Black Spot was. Green grass pokes out from under the snow this time of year. Sometimes it feels like that sense of adventure in me—that wonder about the world—is buried also. Little bits of it poke out of me from time to time and I startle in recognition. I wonder if I imagined all those adventures…if they simply ceased to be because my grown-up mind has lost the ability to play this way.
Let’s play outside.
What I didn’t realize then is that those adventures were a way of tasting God. Looking back, I see His companionship in the cool, smooth surface of a piece of slate. He flew through the air underneath me when I was airborne off the bike ramp. He is the feathery softness of the milkweed.
My play looks different these days. I might take in a concert with my family, or steal a weekend away with my husband. I love to run, to paint, to create, to laugh with friends and family. But it is when I am out-of-doors that I feel Him return to me. These are the moments that color drips back into life and my breath is deep and sure.
When I bend to look through flowing water—watch light play on sinuous arcs rippling over hidden life—I feel the liquefied parts of me pulled deep into the earth, to the beginning of time when Spirit hovered over sea.
When I stir earth—dig into her musty skin—her kin in me is stirred. I feel my dusty roots.
And when I lay back on grass-bed and stare into an ocean of sky…I see the endless beauty of creation—of me, and what I was created to be.
When I play outside, I commune with God. And while book-reading is good, and it is whetting my appetite for Him, I am reminded of these words from a wise teacher:
Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body… (Ecc. 12:12)
Trouble is, I don’t play outside often these days. There are other ways, of course, that I commune with God. But none quite so fun. Last year, I read this book, and it reminded me how much fun God can be. I worked my way through the book here, posting once a week on what stirred inside.
Funny how I forget these things.
Today I stumbled across this post, and I remembered again. The thing is, I don’t want to forget this time. So, I’m making a commitment to play outside—even just a little—every day. I’ll try to tell you about it from time-to-time. And if you try it, I’d be honored if you tell me about your play dates with God.
Time to rediscover the wonder. See you down by the creek.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.

Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:


Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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  1. says

    Glad you took me back to the beginning. Has it been a year already? So glad you’ve kept the idea of play alive for me in this past year. Love you.

  2. says

    Oh, Laura. Coming back to this. The beauty of your words. The beauty of Him. The simplicity of play (remembering now the hours I spent alone in the woods as a child–playing in fern forts.) That we can see Him so clearly in His creation. That book that changed my life. I want to drink in your words again. In fact, I need to print this out.

  3. says

    Running through my mind is the song, “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the world thy hands have made…” I could see the colors of your post — and sang, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great thou art…”

  4. says

    I think of all the things in a life forgotten but we don’t forget those days of playing. So thankful to have baked my mud pies on a the seat of metal swing set with my life friend, my twin. This is bittersweet…but hopeful. God is calling me into the game. I want to play.

  5. says

    I don’t play outside enough either and, that is where I see God clearly. I feel I have become too encumbered by work and worry—not what He intended. I love your descriptions of childhood places and feelings.

  6. says

    Dear Laura, It is such a blessing to see His hand at work in all of nature’s beauty, and to be restored in the joy of the Lord. Thank you for the beautiful post.
    Love in Him,

  7. says

    So glad God led you to playdates! Also glad a friend named it. It has helped me focus on such a positive aspect of my relationship with God to participate in your community, considering the play time of the week. Thank you. The journey and longings God has given you are such a gift.
    I have the God in the Yard book, and keep wondering when it will rise to the top. Seeing your posts and experience motivate me.

  8. says

    That “Black spot” sounds enchanting. I would have loved that place when I was little. To tell the truth, I’d probably like it even now. Great post, Laura.

  9. says

    I enjoyed reading how you started Playdates with God. It is funny because I wrote about two outdoor adventures I had last year, which were out of my comfort zone, then I turned to read your post. Such a God-timing-reminder that play has value…especially play with God. Then I read L.L.’s post for today and it was a triple-hit combined with your post. Grateful that God encouraged me through you and L.L. Thanks, Laura 🙂

  10. says

    oh, I know. I’ll never forget one time when I was running through this path on the trail near my house. The leaves were all rustling with the wind, the trees like a canopy over me, and all that was in my heart was gratitude. Gratitude that God loved to bless me with His beauty.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing your “first” Playdate, a trip down memory lane. Most children certainly don’t have access to a former slate-pit!!!!

    Sounds like it was a good imagination-builder.

    You have the power to describe vividly your childhood memories. (Lucky us! to be recipients of your store-house.)

    Hope you’re having a peaceful, gentle time, Laura. But even if not, may you receive Him. (Daily life doesn’t seem to want us to have peace — sometimes we have to make the choice to receive His peace anyway.)

    Love ya!

  12. says

    I don’t know if I read this one? But, even if I did, it’s all new, since I know you so much better and I read these words with a much more personal feel…hmm…there’s something there for all of the words we read especially His:} {and oh how my heart echoed with this post…me too! and can this whole crazy life just be one great playdate, an ADVENTURE? I think so:}

  13. says

    No more running for me – snow or not snow, but discovering other says to play and have fun is an adventure. More of God until I am so full that I run over – that is my desire!

  14. says

    Thank you for this, Laura. So beautiful.

    I didn’t grow up in an environment where I saw adults doing anything I could identify as play. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to give myself permission to play as an adult.

    I’m learning, though. And you–you bless me. As a role model and as a friend.

  15. says

    I missed this post the first time around, so it was lovely to read it this time and glimpse your childhood joys. May God fill the year ahead with much more play and eyes open to Him. Grace and peace to you in Jesus.

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