For the first half of my life, winter was a season of trust. I didn’t think of it in that way then - then it was a matter of unconscious redemptive endurance. We knew we had to get through it. We knew that March and April were coming - but would probably be delayed. So, in the middle of enduring, we redeemed the days. We did so as kids, and as adult children, by play. The cold froze the small lakes and ponds into acres of skating rink. The slower, smaller streams would provide miles of skating trails for a couple months of the year. Winter was the season of downhill and cross-country skiing - days spent in the wonderland of a snow-covered landscape. Hot chocolate tastes so much better when the appetizer is an hour or two tobogganing down the hills a couple of blocks from home.
Play is a wonderful way to redeem endurance. After all, you have to go through it anyway - you might as well have fun on the way! There are few journeys that are not made lighter, more pleasant - and shorter - by play. Play brings a certain lightness of step to the plod of hanging in there until it is over. If you can’t make play part of the journey, at least take time out occasionally from the journey to play. The dark season of the year calls for such playfulness. The dark seasons of our lives do as well.
Play is a deep mark of trust. Play unconsciously enters into the full and deep awareness that I am not in charge of much of anything - and that the One who is can be fully trusted to do what is right. What a frightening world I would live in if I were in charge of all things concerning me. There would be no time to play - it would all be work, effort, struggle. Life would be task. Instead, life is trust. My life is in God’s hands. It is there whether I recognize it, accept it, and live like it, or not. Play decides to enter the game of trust - knowing that it is the only game in town. Play is at the center of the celebration of Sabbath - one day in every seven in which we do not work and which reminds us that we are created and redeemed - that we are not animals nor slaves - that we are not defined by what we do but by who we are - that we have a plane and a destiny in God’s great kingdom that is beyond any of our imagination.
And so we play - and so we rest - and so we trust. He, after all, has the whole world in His hands.