It seems odd that we sometimes relate cold and snow with a spiritual condition. When I wrote these words it was snowing outside and the temperature was 14°. The wind was blowing strong enough to make it feel as if it were seven below. Children were home instead of at school, and the roads were uninviting. I felt like staying home and being lazy. I might not have even showered that day.
Still, there was beauty in the swirling snowflakes and a quiet beauty in the solitude of the frigid winter air. The previously barren tree limbs were covered in white snowy icing, and the limbs swayed back and forth in time to the music of the low howling wind.
I am reminded of wintery times of my life where all spiritual growth seemed to come to a standstill. The cold winds of solitude howled around me, and my limbs seemed numb to the touch of Divine light and warmth. During those days I find some of my greatest growth occurs. Not in the outward display of green leaves, or—in the spiritual realm—of spiritual service to others. Still, deep in my spiritual roots, I choose to use this time to connect on a deeper level with The Divine. I read more, pray, meditate, and contemplate more. I work on loving myself and on finding the divine connection, and I try to learn how to silence the ego.
For some people the winter season is their favorite time of the year. I’m not saying it has to be everyone’s favorite, but I am saying that we can choose how we respond to the seeming cold and despair of winter—physical or spiritual—and make it a time of growth. A time for reflection. A time to let our roots go deeper and our hearts grow bigger.
As I grow older I find that the word “playtime” has a different meaning for me. As a child it meant a chance to run and play outdoor games such as: tag (you’re it), kick the can, four square, jump rope, jacks/marbles, “Mother May I,” and many other activities I relished as fun.
As an adult, I no longer play those childhood games and can only wish I had the energy for them. It’s funny how words change when we become adults. Playtime was a good, wholesome way to keep fit. As an adult we call it exercise. Perhaps if we reverted back to the past and referred to exercise as playtime we might enjoy it more. We might even take up some of our old childhood games again, let go of our inhibitions, and just have fun.
What about spiritual playtime? Do we even know what that looks like? If childhood playtime is a break from the normal routine in order to have fun through exercise, then spiritual playtime should be a break from our normal spiritual routines in order to relax, have fun, and exercise our spiritual muscles. For me, it is often listening to some uplifting music and letting myself be wrapped in emotional warmth, love, and acceptance.
Spiritual playtime means different things to different people, but it’s important to remember that our spiritual bodies need a time of release from the study, meditation, and strict adherence to a particular way of doing things. Take a break and enjoy the things you’re learning.
This childhood game entails one person hiding while another person looks for or “seeks” out the person hiding. The one who is to do the searching closes their eyes and counts to ten or twenty, or I’ve even heard counts as high as one hundred. This allows the designated hider to find a place where they think they can’t be found.
As adults, we often play the game but with different rules. We hide from one another at the same time—not so much our physical appearance but our true self. We hide our faults, sometimes our likes or dislikes, our political thoughts, and for many, our religious beliefs. In many circumstances, our seeker doesn’t need to count to ten, twenty or even a hundred to see the things we think we’ve hidden. Many of our faults we think we hide are in plain sight. Attitudes unveil our likes and dislikes through the words we say and also through our body language.
I suppose the winner of the game of “Hide and Seek” is the one who finds the one who is hidden. But, ultimately, the one who has been hiding wants to be found, so both win. In the adult game, the one who is hiding also wants to be found—wants to be seen and known with all of their faults, yet still wants to be considered worthy of the search. Isn’t that what religion and spirituality is about? Being discovered and loved for who we are?
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