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Play. For kids it comes easily. But for adults it’s not something we do that often. When was the last time you played a game, acted in a skit or picked up some crayons?
It had been a long time since I had done any of these things—until I attended a contemplative retreat a few months ago. But that’s exactly what we did at the retreat. We played, we laughed, we relaxed—and something sacred happened.
Retreat - Sober - Readings - Talks - Classics—maybe
Going into the retreat I thought it would be serious and sober, full of challenging readings and talks. I thought we would be studying spiritual classics—maybe excerpts from St. Augustine or St. Francis. I expected an intellectual exercise. Instead, the first night of the retreat, we were asked to bring blankets and a pillow to our meeting room. There, snuggled beneath our blankets, the facilitators offered a Psalm and some opening comments and then read children’s picture books. At first I was surprised and disappointed that we were reading these simple stories. What was this about? Slowly though, I began to relax into the rhythm of the words and I almost fell asleep. I shuffled off to my bunk room in a state of peace, feeling like I was five again.
The next day we gathered and read Psalm 104, a Psalm about God as creator. We listened to Fernando Ortega’s beautiful rendition of the song and then we were paired up, each given a section of the long Psalm to “act out” with hand motions and movement. It seems a bit contrived now describing this, but the activity felt freeing and creative. I wasn’t being asked to analyze anything, as we so often are in our culture, particularly church culture, but I was invited to experience it with my body. Then we were sent off for the...
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