Playdates with God: Childlike

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In the grown-up world, if I am to believe God the way a little child does, it is implied that I must employ suspension of disbelief—a term first used by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817 in his work Biographia Literaria. In an attempt to recapture the imagination of a world held captive by the new science of the industrial revolution, Coleridge reintroduced fantastical elements into poetry—writing of visions and beings from the spiritual realm that had long been abandoned in favor of more practical imagery. Suspension of disbelief implies that to go along with a storyline, I should ignore certain aspects of the plot that are seemingly impossible. In this way, I look over what I know to be true—what my eye sees—into the greater narrative of the story … Maybe, [to have faith like a child] instead of suspending disbelief, we need to practice expansion of belief. Isn’t this the way of a little child? To open the mind wide enough that the huge presence of the impossible can fit inside? Children don’t suspend disbelief. They enter into belief with the whole of their being…” ~Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World

In our small group last night, we talked about the difference between being childish and childlike. We watched a video about recapturing wonder in our faith lives, and it fed my hungry heart.

We always start our small group with a check-in. We go around the room and everyone gives a little update about what’s going on in each of our lives. So before we entered into this conversation about being childish verses being childlike, we listened to stories about work and play, aging parents, dealing with teenage angst, new puppies, and adjusting to the almost-empty nest.

It’s a beautiful thing, a sharing that bonds, a great practical way of staying in touch with the big things going on in each other’s lives. But I couldn’t help noticing that the real checking-in happened later in the evening. After we watched the video and discussed its finer points, after we prayed and everyone piled their plates full with yummy food—that’s when the real connections were made. People huddled together in the living room sharing stories from every day, folks wandering out to the deck to watch the children jump on the trampoline, someone ruffling the hair of another one’s child.

We put our lives on hold and make a choice to enter into these holy moments, and in the end, these are the moments we will remember. These are the moments that expand our belief and wake us up to the knowledge that God is here. He walks among us.

In her book Deep Play, Diane Ackerman says, “There is usually a boundary or door at the edge of deep time.” We have to choose to cross the threshold. That is what planning a playdate with God does for me—invites me through the door into holy time. “What gives moments meaning is not the moments themselves,” says Emily P. Freeman in her book Simply Tuesday. “but the presence of Christ with us in the midst of them.”

Trouble is, too often I walk right by the doorway that will lead me into the kairos time—the holy time—because I’m too preoccupied with handling life on my own.

Last night, I wanted to ask my friends about the last time they let their belief expand. When last did they make room in their crowded lives to believe the impossible? When was the last time I did? When I make room in my life for time to wonder at the unlimitlessness of God, all my worries fall away.

And the impossible takes shape and form and is no longer unattainable.

Every Monday I share 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 God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: Bread of Life

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My mother always told me I am an old soul.

“You were always so serious,” she says. “Even when you were a baby.”

When I was six months old her mother—my maternal grandmother—was diagnosed with breast cancer. And she had to wean me from her breast for the struggle of it—the hard work of balancing the care of a newborn and that of her dying mother.

So maybe it’s not so strange that my first memory is that of hunger. I was three years old, watching mother try to feed four children with flour and water and a loaf of homemade bread. It was all she had. I still remember the acrid smell of scorched flour that permeated the kitchen as she made a pasty gravy to bind pieces of bread to our stomachs, glue to hold down the hunger pangs.

The hunger remained like a soft ache when the bread was gone. All these years later, after two children of my own and a life well lived into, the hunger still remains. It seems I carry a yearning with me always.  The hunger keeps me serious, keeps me tethered to the old soul inside of me.

But this hunger that I was founded upon? When it stirs deep within me? It also keeps me tethered to Jesus. This season of new life—living into Easter—it reminds me that he is the Bread of Life.

We go to Jesus to be fed. To the Bread of Life, to the Christ; isn’t this where I must let my yearning lead me? Do I dare to embrace this hunger as invitation? And when I trust the Bread of Life to feed me, do I trust enough to let go of worry about that gaping hole inside of me? Do I trust enough to make room for joy?

Jesus tells us that unless we come to him like a little child we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. For me, that means letting go of the way I have always been, letting my old soul become unfettered and free. It means inviting play into my time with God. My grown-up play looks different than the play I engaged in as a child. Some days I invite God to come with me to an art museum, or a concert, a hike in a local state forest. Some days, we simply sit together and read. But I have resolved to make this a regular practice: once a week, I plan a playdate with God.

And the years are beginning to peel back as this old soul learns what it means to have the faith of a child.

My playdates with God? They have become a way to set the table and feed this hunger inside of me. This the only way that hunger can fill. When I let it awaken me to the moments of completeness in this aching, yearning world—to the joy of Christ breaking into this life again and again.

This is how hunger feeds. This is how hunger makes a very good beginning.

Every Monday I share 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 God and know joy. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.We are trying a new linky widget, friends. I pray this one might eliminate unwanted links. Again, please forgive me for last week’s extra visitors.

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: Listen to Life Singing

June 3, 1849.—Fresh and delicious weather. A long morning walk. Surprised the hawthorn and wild rose-trees in flower. From the fields vague and health-giving scents. The Voirons fringed with dazzling mists, and tints of exquisite softness over the Salève. Work in the fields, two delightful donkeys, one pulling greedily at a hedge of barberry. Then three little children. I felt a boundless desire to caress and play with them. To be able to enjoy such leisure, these peaceful fields, fine weather, contentment; to have my two sisters with me; to rest my eyes on balmy meadows and blossoming orchards; to listen to the life singing in the grass and on the trees; to be so calmly happy—is it not too much? Is it deserved? O let me enjoy it with gratitude. The days of trouble come soon enough and are many enough. I have no presentiment of happiness. All the more let me profit by the present. Come, kind nature, smile and enchant me! Veil from me awhile my own griefs and those of others; let me see only the folds of thy queenly mantle, and hide all miserable and ignoble things from me under thy bounties and splendors! —Amiel’s Journal

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This morning, the world is laced with white, petite ice crystals cling to fingers of grass—winking in the early light. I’m out in the back yard in my robe, knee boots pulled on hastily, trying to capture beauty. Everything I touch melts and I tiptoe cautiously along the rim of this plot of land we call home. I am a clumsy giant in this fragile frozen world and diamonds crush beneath me.  The birds are quiet and my hem is soaked clean through from the bending and kneeling, and I think, Just one more shot.

The kids are getting ready for school and the neighbor’s goats crash through the meadow and my bare legs are turning blue beneath this robe.

But I am standing in a wonderland and I wonder. How does the world not stop its turning in the wake of such beauty?

The things that disappear too quickly are begging to be framed.

Life is moving fast and my prayers are filled with sadness this morning, heart wrung by a hurting friend. I stand alone on this gossamer, small but seen, and I sing the Shema. I lift it all up: this beauty, that grief, all the loss a broken world must endure.

Just one more shot, I think.

And Beauty is a person; that sweet Companion who soothes the ache.

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

Laura Boggess

Why You Oughta Get Your Eyes Examined

On Saturday morning Jeffrey and I go down the street to the neighbor’s to let their dogs out. They are out of town and he is their “go-to” guy when they need a pet sitter. Sometimes he likes to talk as we walk and right before we get to their house he opens up.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and just thought that all the possibilities of things to do are endless?
He opens the garage door with the remote and ducks inside but I am standing on the driveway…speechless.
What did you say?
I hurry in after him and he is opening the door and there are wet noses waiting for our hands and as we sink fingers into quivering fur he asks it again.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and realized that it’s a new day and anything can happen? I mean, you can do anything?
I follow him through the kitchen and he opens the back door to let the dogs out in the yard. They want us to come with them and Tucker, the male Cocker, grabs his toy for me to throw. We spill into the back yard and I’m still thinking about it.
Have I ever. Every morning I wake up and think about the endless list of things to do that day. But the way he asked the question? He makes it sound like a good thing.
Anything can happen.
You can do anything.
Each morning I wake up and that to-do list feels like a chain around my leg. When last have I looked at the day with a sense of wonder and possibility?
I can’t remember.
He doesn’t seem to expect an answer and he is all over the dewy yard now…throwing, chasing, praising dogs. As I watch my son, it feels like scales fall from my eyes. I can learn a lot from this boy who approaches each day—each moment—with enthusiastic optimism.
As I watch, he climbs on the neighbor’s trampoline. They said it was okay for him to use it…but what about me? He looks over his shoulder.
Hey, mom, you wanna jump?
There’s a slight taunt in his voice, a bit of tease. He knows the trampoline story.
But for some reason, I feel scared.
 
I don’t know, I say. The grass is all wet.
You have to take off your shoes anyway.
I move slowly over to the thing. Three sets of canine eyes follow me.
I know, I know, my eyes tell theirs. I’m too old for this.
But I can’t seem to stop myself and soon we are jumping together. I feel the exhilaration of feet catching air and I start to giggle. Our jumping gets all messed up and he’s going down when I’m going up and it messes with the flight and I can’t stop laughing. I lay down in the middle of the thing, collapse into giggles and he keeps jumping—doing the popcorn thing to me.
Mom, get up!
I can’t…I can’t stop laughing.
He starts laughing too and I slide off, into my shoes. The earth feels good.
And I just had my vision checked.
We leave the dogs and continue our walk. We go down by the creek and the morning sun makes shine on the water. The frogs jump in our wake and make slappy splashes. I laugh more. There are two ducks swimming in the deep pool and they lift their heads cautiously as we walk by. I smell lilac and fresh cut grass and I hear birdsong.
Everything is new. Everything is new.

Summer’s Child

Last night when we took our evening walk to the creek, some of the neighborhood children shyly shuffled up to us with downcast eyes and hands held out to Lucy Mae. She took their pats and gratefully licked sticky fingers and those little faces became the moon. And then those little legs scuttled up and away and plopped down prone at the top of a thick-grassed knoll. I gaped as these three children pulled their arms in to their sides and rolled down that hill amidst squeals of delight. We watched, dumbstruck, as their limbs and trunks spun round and round and even Teddy had a grin on his face.
We resumed our leisurely stroll but I suddenly had a craving for a popsicle. I told the boys that this was one of our prime summer activities when I was a girl—this rolling down hills. This and the lying flat on the back, looking for pictures in clouds. And the catching of the fireflies. They let me ramble on a bit about going berry-picking and how a ripe raspberry melts on the tongue on a hot summer day.
Isn’t this summer? This carefree openness to the days?
I could still hear the joyful shouts of the children behind me and my heart felt like a stone inside of me. Heavy.
What does it mean to come to Jesus as a little child?
This morning, before I opened my eyes, I asked the Lord to help me live into the woman He wants me to be. He has loved me into life, into dreams, into a place of joy…but sometimes…sometimes it feels like all this growing takes me further away from Love. In my journal this morning I asked what it would look like—this living into my true self.
It means speaking and acting from truth, I wrote. Not from these fears and insecurities that plague me.
A wise woman is not one who has all the answers, but one who knows she is loved, delights in being loved, and speaks and acts out of this Love.
This morning, as the rain falls down and I watch the earth gather its luster…I am wondering if a wise woman is someone who also rolls down hills.
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With my sweet friend Jennifer: 
 

And Emily too: