Child’s Play

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The Scriptures insist, again and again, that when we are in a state of faith, no matter our maturity, we are like children at play. In Proverbs 8, Wisdom plays like a child, creating the world. The Leviathan, in Psalm 104, plays–and God enjoys it.  Isaiah 11 promises that a child in God’s kingdom will play fearlessly beside a snake’s nest. In Zechariah 8’s picture of the kingdom, ‘Boys and girls will fill the streets with their games.’

(Jeffrey Overstreet, “Then Sings My Soul,” Molehill vol II)

In his article, Overstreet maintains that creative play can be a vehicle for delighting in and participating in the good works that God has made and is continuing to shape.  I agree.  While, yes, of course, there is a large element of discipline and mastery of technique involved in any creative endeavor, to pursue those alone without a sense of play deprives one of the delight which is the initial draw to artistic, imaginative, work.  Playing with my camera in hand, experimenting with materials around me, allows me to see beauty in the lines, colors, and textures that I overlook when focused on a particular task.  Sometimes the result of this play is a set of photos that contain a hint of an image I was chasing.  At other times, I am pleasurably surprised by the results.  The image above was an instance of the latter. It’s basically the view out of the bottom of an everyday drinking glass that we own–one of a small remnant of glasses from when we first got married (the rest have met untimely ends).  I later confessed to Jason that I’m glad we don’t have surveillance cameras in our house (an observation born from watching too much Chuck on Netflix, no doubt), so that there is no evidence of me walking around the house, looking through the bottoms of a few different glasses, slipping them over my lens, and taking photos until a few caught my eye. There is a humility in play, in seeking to explore the world with the curiosity and naivete of a child, that often leads to a delight which proves itself elusive to the adult mind that proudly identifies images as “just distortion caused by glass,” or “just old curtains,” and which is too self aware to assume the potentially ridiculous postures necessary for a new perspective.  When we play, we are given a chance to practice forgetfulness of self, to, in Overstreet’s words, “become a witness again, catching light and, perhaps, reflecting it.”

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2 thoughts on “Child’s Play

  1. “When we play, we are given a chance to practice forgetfulness of self, to, in Overstreet’s words, ‘become a witness again, catching light and, perhaps, reflecting it.’”

    Oh, what good words!

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