Friday, April 12, 2013

Playfulness: portal for the soul

Two important parts of my life converge this week: hosting a deeply spiritual gathering, then re-grouping two days later for a wild, wooly and lovable gaggle of preteens to teach them about photography. Rather, my talented and loving other half is doing the camera gig as our guest. Still, it's a big turn-around and juxtaposition in which I am finding great joy.

The Thursday night kickoff with what I call my Turtlebox group seemed perfect. We focused on the idea of opening to the Divine or whatever one feels is greater than themselves. My mantra in this series is not to get too hung up on language ... that we must translate for one another so that we may read between the lines and listen by heart. For me, it is all about Spirit/God, but I don't want to impose my language on another when, in fact, I believe we are referring to the same energy.

In luring participants more toward doing than just discussing, they graciously partook in what I call "heart play," something I was introduced to by a wonderful art coach and have since expanded and adapted to a more spiritual setting. 
Heart-play stash

It also allows me to imbibe my penchant for collecting things, interesting things and displaying them in baskets for just such an exercise. I ask people to select whatever materials – from natural and earthy objects to shiny ribbons and gems and a lot of childhood trinkets such as building blocks, Tinker Toys and puzzle pieces – appeal to them, mindlessly, and begin assembling them in a temporary sculpture of sorts. Playing, arranging and freeing their mind. The point it not to over think, not even to think. Then, when you feel finished, you reflect and journal on the experience and creation. It's pretty amazing what transpires and what people learn from their play. Once, we all happened to unconsciously create altars.

This has always been one of my most favorite activities when I facilitate others in spiritual nurture. Always. Several weeks ago when I had an astrology reading for my birthday and the astrologer got to my soul purpose, she said mine was to teach adults to play. Hum .....
Heart-play temporary sculpture

After the heart play, I will ask when was the last time you played? I understand that having children gave me back that permission and last night, someone said the same for being a grandparent. But we don't need those excuses.

Perhaps that is why I so love Artsy Fartsy and connecting under-served middle schoolers to their creativity. We are playing because that's how they engage. I am so excited for tomorrow that I can hardly stand it. My husband has constructed something called a camera obscura in one of the empty classrooms in the building where we both have studios. He'll have the kids enter into the darkness and actually be in a camera as the windows have been draped. When he unveils a small hole, a reversed and large image from out the window will appear on the screen. It is so cool and I know the kids will love this. When I explained to one of them earlier in the week we were doing photography, she asked "What's that?" In responding that it involves taking pictures with a camera, she understood. Wow, just wait til they get to see actual negatives and film ... things they've never had occasion to experience.

Can you tell all of this playfulness brings me great joy? I tend toward being ultra-responsible and I crave the playfulness as balance. I think we all do, whether we recognize it or not.

Playfulness is a portal for the soul in so many dimensions and can connect us spiritually as well as creatively. Try it sometime.

• When was the last time I played?
• How do I give myself permission to play?
• How has it freed my soul?
• When have I connected spiritually through play?
• How have I re-engaged my creativity in that manner?

Red Bird/paster and pain on paper


Red bird is my guide.
He first led me to the
woods – to a safe and
wonderful place where
I let my heart play.
And when I let my
heart play often enough,
he appears. As if to
say I’m following the
right path. When I
dive into doubt, he’s
scarce. It’s then I
know to open up
again, become playful.
When I do, he always

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  1. I confess, playing is what I love to do and what I live for! I work two weeks every summer at a camp for kids and though the director thinks I'm there as a spiritual counselor, I'm really there to play flashlight tag, capture the flag, and all the other games. But, its like you say, we have to find excuses to play. Unfortunately, I can't just call up my friends and say "Let's play tag this afternoon".

    On another note, your mention of the camera obscura reminded me of this quote by my favorite author, Mary Baker Eddy: "What is gratitude, but a powerful camera obscura, a thing focusing light where love, memory, and all within the human heart is present to manifest light."

  2. Good cover, Colin! I do have a friend I CAN call up and ask to play, which is wonderful. And I LOVE your quote about the camera obscura. I read it to my husband, a photographer, and he liked it as well. Thanks always ... blessings