There are a couple of stories I have told with both children and adults over the years that continue to captivate me. They are both from the curriculum called Godly Play by Jerome Berryman. They are called “The Mystery of Easter” and “The Faces of Easter”.
The first looks like a puzzle that forms a cross when completed. The second contains images of Jesus as a baby, a child and an adult. It highlights some of the major moments in his life, death and resurrection.
Each story contains a theme at the end that surprises us. As each story is initially told, pieces of the story are introduced in a rather two-dimensional fashion. But when we come to the end of each respective story, we discover there are two sides—turning the story into a three-dimensional enigma.
Specifically, one side of the story contains an element that is “sad” and “serious”. While the other side of the story represents celebration, happiness and joy. The surprise comes when we realize these are two sides of the same thing. “We can’t pull them apart. You know that with one side, the other side is always there.”
Whereas we tend to create a false duality out of life and death, Christian theology unifies them.
Some time ago, a friend forwarded me a quote by Richard Rohr that speaks to this theme. Rohr writes:
“In the third split, we separate life from death, and we think they are two separate realities. In fact, they are two sides of one coin, and this deep insight is called by Christians “the paschal mystery.” God must surely understand that humans see things “die” and seemingly disappear, starting with the first death of our pet, our grandparents, and perhaps even parents. It sure looks like either-or.
“The brilliant Ken Wilber says that ‘the fact that life and death are ‘not two’ is extremely difficult to grasp, not because it is so complex, but because it is so simple.’
“And the equally brilliant Kathleen Dowling Singh, who has given her life to hospice work, says that ‘We miss the unity of life and death at the very point where our ordinary mind begins to think about it.’”
Play is both/and. What are some other ways you’ve experienced this phenomenon in which you’ve experienced two ‘opposites’ as one?