The Necessity of Play

Yesterday as I was walking I listened to a TED radio hour about play. Now, I was outside and I was moving, but I wasn’t exactly playing.


I was working to get my body in better shape…so that I can play more. With my kids. Because sometimes they need encouragement to play.


We all need that encouragement, and yet after listening to the speakers, I realized the importance of play. Or I remembered.  Play should be a priority.


We are born stamped with the image of a Creative and playful God. Yes, we face a myriad of struggles in this life, and there are so many things to think deeply about and to weep over. There are enormous, staggering issues that surround us. There are also the mundane duties and necessities of life, which demand our attention.


Still, there is this wiring in us that looks for and loves play.


There are waterfalls and rainbows and amazing sunsets and wonder all around us. There are signs everywhere of a Creator at play.

The colors purple and pink.


The platypus.

Laughter. Deep, releasing and spontaneous laughter. The kind where you can’t contain yourself.



And when we play we relate in such a different way. With freedom and with joy. Imagination.


“That’s a sure way to tell about somebody–the way they play, or don’t play, make-believe.” Madeleine L’Engle


Part of the TED talk was with a Dr. Steve Brown who had researched the role of play in murderers. They didn’t play. They didn’t engage in spontaneous play as children. And they didn’t learn empathy. They didn’t learn the necessities of life that come through play. That is fairly staggering.



The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. G.K. Chesterton


We have to have a release in the midst of the struggle. We have to sometimes be reminded to play.


Pinterest and my Facebook feed are full of ideas to spark play in our children this summer. There is a tinge of sadness that we have to sometimes manufacture play because our children need the encouragement. Maybe we need to incorporate more play in our lives so it becomes more engrained…then it can be more spontaneous. Maybe we, I, need to not say no when the children want to play…we need to encourage it and enlarge that desire.



“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” G. K. Chesterton

It’s summertime. Let’s play. Let’s let down our guard a bit and get silly and get wet in the sprinklers and run around with the kids. Let’s laugh until we pee. Then laugh some more.

Let us allow that joy to revive us this summer.

Let’s play, and show our kids we still know how to be alive. Go throw a water balloon at someone, or color a picture, or play video games with your kids.

“I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous.

For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order?

How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis?

No, Malcolm. It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were place here to live.

But in this world everything is upside down. That which , if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C.S. Lewis


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