Do you play much? Make room for wonder? If not, you may need to punch pause and rediscover childlikeness. Read on as Christine Aroney-Sine shows us how to truly embrace God's kingdom.
By Christine Aroney-Sine
It's official, Seattle accumulated more February snow this year than any time since 1916. On the first snow day we all woke to a beautiful white winter wonderland, pulled out our sleds and went off to have some fun. The local park was full of families sledding, skiing, snowshoeing and walking. I came home refreshed, renewed and revived.
I cannot remember the last time I took a whole day for play like this. It is sad that it takes such a rare event for many of us to get out and have some fun. Yet according to Stuart Brown of the National Institute for Play, nothing lights up the brain like play. He believes it is as important as oxygen for our survival and may be God's greatest gift to humankind.
Unless you become like children you cannot enter the kingdom of God. These words in Matthew 18 riveted my attention a couple of years ago and helped change my perspective.
I asked my Facebook friends: What childlike characteristics make us fit for the kingdom? An amazing list emerged: playfulness, awe and wonder, imagination, curiosity, love of nature, and many more.
Tragically we live in a world of play deprivation, nature deficit disorder, and awe and wonder depletion. No wonder we suffer from God-deprivation too. No wonder our life rhythms are out of sync with God.
I am increasingly convinced that rediscovering child-like wonder is essential for our spiritual health. Awe and wonder, imagination and curiosity connect us to the God who is present in every moment and everything in a way that nothing else can. These qualities enrich our contemplative core and expand our horizons to explore new aspects of our world and of our God.
Believing in a God who loves to get his hands dirty planting gardens, makes mud pies to put on the eyes of the blind, and does happy dances and sings with joy over all of humanity and in fact all of creation has revolutionized my faith. Here are a few steps you can take now, to embrace the gift of wonder:
Read some children's books - revisit your childhood favorites or ask your kids, grandkids or friends' kids which ones they enjoy most. Read them together. It is always fun to hear the enthusiastic responses of children to creative words and images.
Spend time with kids - we all need kids in our lives. Not only do they help us have fun but they ask difficult questions that encourage us to let go of our pretentious and often unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. Sometimes their questions lead us to some deep soul searching of our own.
Reconnect to your senses - kids view the world through all their senses, but we adults often limit ourselves to sight and sound. Even these senses have very confining borders. Go on a nature walk. Rediscover the joy of smells, the wonder of textures, the delight of sunlight through trees. Using our senses opens us to a God of delight and rejoicing who invites us to relax, to sit in contentment and wonder, or allow ourselves to be distracted by the beauty of a butterfly.
As the snow melts and spring erupts, I want to notice the wonder of the changing season and immerse myself in the beauty. Will you join me in discovering the wonder of God's world?
Christine Aroney-Sine is the founder and facilitator for GodSpace, an online community that grew out of her passion for creative spirituality, gardening and sustainability. She and her husband, Tom, are cofounders of Mustard Seed Associates. Her most recent book is The Gift of Wonder: Creative Practices for Delighting in God. Other books include Rest in the Moment, Return to Our Senses, GodSpace, and Tales of a Seasick Doctor.