Play…

IMG_1486 IMG_1482 IMG_1477 IMG_1444 IMG_1492 IMG_1501 IMG_1520“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.”

-Charles Schaefer

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Divine Play

Rowan teaches me about sheer joy in the face of what many of us would call ‘ordinary.’ To witness such joyful presence in a given moment with no forward looking reminds me of the deeper spiritual qualities of Play…I often find myself witnessing his play as if from a distance – and suddenly I realize I don’t have to merely witness, I too can actively participate in this play, ultimately a dance of life, which lives more akin to spirals than lines.

So many of us are conditioned to linearity! And play defies this conditioning. I walk straight lines and think “here to there,” “this then that…” Rowan gallops in circles and serpentines. He loses himself to a moment when something interesting arises: bubbles in the waterfall, water splashing around rocks, an ant crossing the path…A piece of music can send him grooving a mile a minute in infinite directions, reminding me of the Hindu deity Nataraj himself, embodying all planes of movement, even faceplanting himself against the grass (meanwhile the rest of us have settled into various degrees of inhibition and choose the safer path of stillness).

Deepak Chopra comes to mind in his description of Lila, divine play or spontaneity. “Lila is the play of the goddess Shakti that creates the world out of sheer delight. Lila shocks Westerners because the purpose of the universe isn’t goodness or reverence for God but rather is a divine comedy. The universe is recreational, and the most devout believers are those who abandon care and live to join the cosmic dance.” In a simple moment playing with water, Rowan points towards an effortless and playful relationship with Life. He IS life living itself joyfully. Some say Lila springs from the abundance of Divine Bliss, which points to creation and creativity. Here lies the realm of no-agenda, spontaneous co-arising, surrendered presence into what just is. It is joyful, without effort, fun.

I just need to shift my frame of how I participate in Rowan’s spirals and serpentines. Often I am wanting to ‘move on,’ ‘move forward’ – and play becomes a diversion along the way. (“Really? We have to jump up and down here AGAIN?”) Children can point us the way towards transcending our conditioning. Many young children model an absorption in the present moment that spiritual practitioners move towards through years of practice. And it is so simple: Look at the bubbles! Look how they dance on my hands! Look how this water slips between my fingers! Feel the cool drops on your toes! Toss your head back in utter delight! Laugh along! Really, what else is there? The snack a la coffee shop on my agenda can wait (how often have I pulled Rowan out of his Divine Spirals into my linear agenda?).

And then, I spiral back to myself, to my own infinitely playful, divine nature. All I have to do is bask here. Play. Spiral. Twirl. Be curious. Explore. Marvel at the little things. Smile at water falling as if it is truly a miracle, because, well, it is.