“Monkey in the Middle” pierced the subtle rhythm of the ocean lapping at the shore. Squeals and dives and splashes erupted as my young adult son taught his nieces and nephews his favorite childhood game. I smiled as I looked up from my umbrella covered beach chair. I reminisced about the countless hours my son and I played that game while he was growing up. We played it in a glacier lake in Maine and in the in the swimming pool in Oklahoma. We played it with aunts and uncles and older siblings and friends. Within minutes I had joined the simple game of keep away, laughing hysterically and reveling in the fun. It was hard to tell who was having a better time: the little kids or the mature adults.
It reminded me of what Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist said about play being “outside of time.” There are moments that are so pleasurable that you simply don’t know or care about time because you are immersed completely in the joy of being in one another’s company and engaging in the game. Dr. Brown discovered that such times of play are essential to healthy brain development and that even we adults need regular times of play.
I was driving down the street the other day but had accidentally left my phone at home and the screen in my car said “no device connected” And I thought: That’s what we all need. Times when no device is connected: no TV, phone, computer, iPad. We just need moments “outside of time” to connect our souls to the creativity of our creator, the joy of human connection, the pleasure of play. The ancient word for this in the Bible is Sabbath, or as one Jewish scholar described, the practice of resting every seven days, “a palace in time.” God’s people found it so essential to rest and play with regularity that they made it one of the ten commandments: “Keep the Sabbath.”
My prayer for you in these final weeks of summer is that you will seek and find some time to play, and experience those sacred moments “outside of time.”
Grace and Peace