30 January 2014

Thursday Thought: What Would Nobel Do?


In 1971, Dennis Gabor won the Nobel Prize in Physics. On December 10 he concluded his speech at the Nobel awards banquet with these words:

“In his epoch Alfred Nobel was a very wise man by endowing what he considered as pursuits of eternal values; science, pure and applied, idealistic literature, peace. I sometimes wonder what he would have done if he had lived seventy-five years later? I think that he would have been highly satisfied to see what physics, chemistry and medicine have done to make the world a better place for men, but he would have been deeply unhappy to see that it has failed to make the world a safer place. I do not presume to guess what his inventive genius might have done, but I feel that he would have put the emphasis on the study of man's nature, and of the social institutions which may protect him for himself.

“Yes, science and art, truth and beauty, are eternal values for any civilisation which deserves this name, but they can flourish only if they are protected by wise social institutions against the fighting animal in man, which safeguard peace, social and international. My wish is that the talents of the whole next generation should recognize this as their first priority.”


PlayFull is dedicated to helping people play from the inside-out. We not only hope to work “against the fighting animal in man” but to call forth art, truth and beauty—and to draw attention to it when it is manifest. Join us in this calling: like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.



29 January 2014

Text Me a Tweet on Facebook Yo.

Yes, we all tend to take our tweets, status updates and texts a little too seriously sometimes. These commercials by Sprint hold a mirror up to our own silliness. Which one is your favorite?











At PlayFull, every Hump Day is Humor Day. Laughter is good medicine! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter 'cause we're cray cray amaze-ballz.

28 January 2014

Creative Home Design

Here are some interesting design ideas if you want to instill a sense of playfulness in your home. Some of these are doable, others...not so much. Which one is your favorite?

1. Take the stairs up, take the slide down...



2. Book shelves...and stairs!



3. Turn the rain into music...



4. Fresh herbs when you cook...



5. A fire pit inside or out...




6. What every kid wants: an indoor treehouse...



7. Make the most of space under the stairs...



8. Install a glass floor in your bathroom. Uh, not recommended.


Source

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27 January 2014

Forgiveness

Forgiveness: what a radical, world-changing act! It runs counter to every instinct we have. When I think of offering forgiveness, I kick against the injustice of it—especially when the person I’m forgiving has not asked for forgiveness, sees no need to be forgiven, does not want it.

“Why should I forgive them?” I ask. “They don’t deserve it. They were wrong and what they did really hurt me.”

Forgiving them feels like letting them off the hook. What’s to stop them from doing it again and again and again?

No, I would sooner wish indictment on them. When their actions condemn them, then I will think of forgiving them.  Then and only then will I rest.

……………………..

When I run the scenario in my head, I see the futility of it.  The imagined indictment cannot be scheduled or controlled. The condemnation I wish will not come through me because my enemy does not care a whit for what I think—and I cannot compel God to pronounce judgment on any given date.

When I linger unforgiving, I put my own life in a holding pattern. Around and around the circle of hurt I revolve, hoping that with each tighter circle the offender will finally feel the pressure and repent. Thus, a lifetime of free journey is exchanged for determined guilt-tripping.

But there is good news. When I grow tired and rest even for a moment from this obsession, I begin to feel hope’s heartbeat. The future calls—at first in a whisper of wind, then a song on the air. Freedom and joy are in earshot. If I can manage to break free of my insistence for justice, my horizon will shift. No longer will I remain fixed on a single spot. I can leave it behind and move on to greater things.

But only if I forgive. The choice is mine—not theirs, not God’s, not anybody else’s.

“But, why? Why should I forgive? What they’ve done is wrong. It’s not right.”

There is no argument about that. Still, I should forgive. Still…still…

My heart is stilled. It is quiet enough now to hear a different narrative.  When I listen to the ancient and ever-new story, it astounds me.

…………………………………

Once upon a time there was a man, totally innocent of any wrongdoing. His accusers flogged him unjustly. As he hung on a cross, he said, “Forgive them.”

Just like that. They did not deserve it. They were least deserving of it. But he forgave. And a new life, a totally new way of living, emerged.

There was no wishing the murderer and the apathetic get their just desserts. He did not harbor resentment and in that act, he released both the victim and oppressor.

Now, because of his selfless love, the lawbreaker was freed and given another chance.

No, they did not deserve it. But wiping the slate clean was the only way to end the war. The powerless one wielded the most powerful force imaginable: forgiveness.

Let it go. Just let it go. See? Freedom has a friend named Joy. They both call you to come play with them. Join them. Just let it go. You don't need the misery.


26 January 2014

Brueggemann on Faith

“Faith responds to an already given grace. This faith is not simply an embrace of the goodness which meets us in the world, but a reception of the goodness of God promised in spite of the way the world is. The faith of Abraham is not in anything he sees in the world, but in a word which will overcome the barrenness of the world. Faith is reliance on God’s promise of overcoming the present for a new life.”   -Walter Brueggemann, Genesis


PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 





19 January 2014

Lord, make me laugh!

Lord, make me laugh!
By Michel Quoist

I don’t know why, Lord,
but when I was praying this morning
I suddenly realized
that I never imagined you
laughing,
laughing a really resounding laugh,
echoing in waves, one after another,
towards others who welcome it,
enriched by the joy it offers.

I imagine you, calm and peaceful,
and occasionally smiling quietly,
but above all serious,
and sometimes weeping.
In fact, Lord, I’m glad to know
that you knew how to cry!

But your evangelists thought it better not to tell us
that one day, in one circumstance or another,
you laughed out loud.
And I’m sorry they didn’t tell us.

I also see you, Lord, handsome, luminous,
transfigured by prayer,
or your eyes shining with anger,
chastising
moral and religious hypocrites.
I see you disfigured,
trembling with loneliness and fear,
blood-stained under torture.
But laughing out loud . . . definitely not.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that you used to laugh.
Even if there are good people who think,
perhaps,
that such ideas are inappropriate!
You laughed as a child in Nazareth,
when you played in the square with your friends.
As an adolescent, you laughed with your cousins
when you were with the caravan, returning from the Temple.
You laughed with your disciples
at the wedding in Cana of Galilee,
and you sang,
and you danced when others danced.
But afterwards . . .
I find it hard to imagine!

I’ve tried to discover why.
I think I’ve found the reason . . .
It’s because I haven’t enough faith!

I don’t have too much trouble
believing that you are God.
Your Father whispered it to me,
I’m sure,
because you told us that alone
one couldn’t believe it,
and I thank you for this wonderful gift
which transforms my life.
But I admit
that I don’t find it easy
to believe that you are a man,
not a superman — a man,
a real man,
and that you didn’t simply play at being a man,
disguised as a man,
pretending to be with us,
in solidarity with us.
Nevertheless, Lord,
though I may find it hard to believe sometimes
when I meditate on this mystery just with my head,
it is the most wonderful news for me,
news that fills me with gratitude and joy,
when I contemplate it in my heart.
Because in my eyes,
it is the surest
and most overwhelming proof
that you love us beyond all else,
and that this love is close to us,
so close that it touches us,
that it takes root in us,
in this humanity created by you,
but so far away,
so far away from you,
if you hadn’t come among us.

For you could have loved us from on high, Lord,
and could have sent us an ambassador
other than yourself,
but you travelled personally.
You could have come beside us,
so that you, God, could lead us
and we, human beings, would follow you.
But you came among us,
a man with us,
a man like us,
so much like us
that we became brothers and sisters:
brothers and sisters of the baby who cried,
and drank his mother’s milk;
brothers and sisters of the little boy who learned to read,
to pray;
brothers and sisters of the man who preached so well . . .
too well,
so that he died under torture,
offering his life for us.
Brother.
Our brother Jesus,
who knew how to weep . . . to laugh . . .
because he was a man.

I have some strange ideas, Lord,
but what do you expect?
Thinking of you, so close to us . . .
so like us
so that we may become like you . . .
makes me happy,
so happy;
I’m amazed that we’re not happier,
and it hurts me to see us looking too serious
when we speak about you;
and I don’t see why we should seem sad
when we come together to pray to you,
and to offer with you to the Father,
your suffering . . . and your tears,
your joys . . . and your laughter,
your life.
Perhaps the people around us would have more faith in you.

if we were more joyful
and they could see our joy.

Pardon my childish tricks,
but like a little one
on an older brother’s knee,
I want to say to you this evening, Lord,
“Make me laugh!”
Yes Lord, that’s my strange prayer . . .
make me laugh,
so that I, in my turn,
can make my brothers and sisters laugh.
They really need to!

…………………………


PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 


16 January 2014

Thursday Thought: Einstein on Play

Tagore was born in Calcutta, India. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was a poet, novelist, playwright, composer and painter. Albert Einstein met with him in 1930. He died in 1941.



PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. To keep up with thought-provoking content, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.


15 January 2014

My Idea of a Super Bowl...

When a sport turns the coin toss at the beginning of the game into a featured media coverage spot you know it has gotten too big for its own britches.

The Super Bowl is...well, gosh, I don't know when it's on because I really don't care. This Hump Day we're taking a popularity risk at PlayFull because, let's face it--this championship game takes itself way too seriously. Enjoy, friends! --Troy







Can you tell the official sport of PlayFull is hockey? Now you gotta like us.

13 January 2014

Happy by Pharrell Williams

This is guaranteed to give you a pick-me-up today. Enjoy!




PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Have a great week, friends.

12 January 2014

Choosing Rest

There will always be more to do. That much is certain. Rest is a choice, a trusting choice. I must trust that, should I stop doing, my life will not come crashing down.  I am not compelled to perform that task that just popped into my head—nor all the others that occupy my mind like insistent soldiers storming a battlefront.

Just rest. Let go of the trigger, shooting from one activity to the next, rapid-fire and automatic. Once you start going and doing, it’s hard to stop.

Why rest? Why stop?

Rest is a humbling choice. It has no reputation to uphold. To truly rest is to set aside one’s ego.  It reminds me I am not all that important. I can stop doing and others will go on being happy, accomplishments will be completed without me. Rest puts me in my place. I am limited.

“But…” (and here I fill in the blank) “…such and such won’t get done unless I do it now.”

“So?” she asks.

Her simple question teaches me that the many things I think are important…really are not that important. I can leave them undone and no one, myself included, will be the worse for it.

There are more reasons to rest, to be sure. For now, I’m certainly not going to analyze the issue to death.

I’ll rest.   You can, too.



08 January 2014

Endurance is for the living hopeful

Endurance is for the living hopeful
left by loved ones
‘mid cross-walk.
Endure:

in the intersection
of heaven
and earth
the

v
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

beam
is longer than
the horizon,
the sky’s spine greater than burdened shoulders.
Crucifixion is temporal;
resurrection—eternal.

Groans diminish within a minute
when
t
 h
  e

w
 e
a
          r
     y

trip
       over
Laughter,
a patient
  spring
 hidden
         in
          the
             wild.

Surprise.
The prize trickles at your feet.
‘Mid the dirt, a limitless drink.
In the tic of a wink
dust-to-dust
becomes God with us.

Endure.
Endurance is for the living hopeful.





                                                                                                                              

a poem by Troy Cady










07 January 2014

Immune

In the space of a question…

The icicle, chill and clear,
formed quickly in just one day
off the roof’s corner.
The storm seized
the city streets
and sidewalks;
the downspout,
filled with
uncleaned leaves,
overflowed and froze.
A dagger hanging,
holding onto home,
growing longer
with each unbroken hour.
Tomorrow I predict
the late afternoon sun
will shine through
her crystal life,
she will melt
and let go,
fluid once again,
uncontained,
free to swell
like the river
from whence
she came.
Death,
false and fragile,
thus dissipates,
once a
menace,
now a
promise.

…she was gone.


Immune
a poem by Troy Cady




03 January 2014

Danger and Faith

Faith and danger go hand-in-hand.

Recently, I made a set of materials for a story included in Godly Play’s curriculum. The story is called The Mystery of Christmas. In a series of stories for Advent, Godly Play acquaints children with the prophets (week one), Mary and Joseph (week two), the shepherds (week three) and the Magi (week four). With those pieces as a basis, Godly Play presents a story on Christmas Sunday that rounds out the narrative. The Mystery of Christmas presents aspects of the story that were left out in Advent—and at least one part of the story portrays the “shadow side” of Christmas: the Massacre of the Innocents.

Some days ago, a concerned friend asked me about the inclusion of this part in the story. She was worried it might be too intense for children.  I thought I’d share my response below since I believe you might find it interesting and helpful to you, whether you are involved in children’s ministry or not.

I hope this helps.

--Troy

……………………………………………

Hi, Melissa--

Thank you for asking me about this.

The story on Sunday was an adaptation of a book called The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L'Engle. It is a picture book that uses paintings by Giotto to tell the story of Christ. The author of Godly Play adapted the book for use in a Godly Play circle. The Godly Play story is called The Mystery of Christmas and it features portions of the Christmas story that are often left out in our normal retelling of Christ's advent. For example, The Mystery of Christmas story includes the part where the angel appears to Mary, announcing that she will conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. This part of the story was not included in our Advent lessons, but it is something that is good for the children to know.

One aim of the story is to introduce children to some classic phrases used throughout church history. (The "liturgical action" genre of Godly Play--of which The Mystery of Christmas is a part--aims to acquaint children with "the language and practices" of our faith).

So, on the first plaque, the phrase featured is The Annunciation. The second plaque features The Magnificat, where Mary visits Elizabeth. The third plaque introduces children to the expression "The Nativity". The fourth plaque tells about The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, introducing the children to Simeon and Anna. The fifth plaque is The Adoration of the Magi. The sixth is The Massacre of the Innocents and the seventh is The Flight into Egypt.

Because the intent of The Mystery of Christmas is to round out the narrative of an already-familiar story, the author of Godly Play included the troubling scene in the telling. So, along with the choice to include the scene, the author wanted to make sure it was done with some propriety. I will mention more on Godly Play's strategies for that later in this email.

One other goal for this story involves something Godly Play addresses throughout the corpus of the curriculum: the author hopes children will engage issues of suffering, pain and death--since he found that children do, in fact, think about these things at very young ages.  The author of Godly Play observed that most children's ministry curricula include stories that have death and suffering as core aspects but these curricula do not necessarily present the stories in ways that would encourage the children to think meaningfully about death.

The problem is, much of our Christian story depends on these themes. The stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, The Passover, David and Goliath, the crucifixion—and more—rely on such themes.   Of course, all children think about death, pain and suffering--but (church-going or not) many children are not nurtured to think respectfully about it because of the way popular media often presents death and violence.

Because of that, whenever the author of Godly Play includes aspects that portray the "shadow" side of our faith the intent is not to avoid it but rather to engage it without glorifying it. That is why the color purple is used frequently in Godly Play stories. It helps children begin to engage with this shadow side. Other aspects in the Godly Play method come into play here as well. For example, when a desert story includes Sarah's death, there is a moment of silence and a gesture of burial. Of course, the crucifixion is another core part of our story. Troubling, indeed. 

In last Sunday's story, telling the part about the death of the babies could not be avoided because it explains how the Holy Family got to Egypt. Hopefully, this part of the story appropriately portrays a sense of danger--in the light of which God’s grace is magnified even more. The danger of sending his Son into our world in the form of a vulnerable baby is what makes this story so amazing. (The desert stories we tell also help children engage with the dangerous side of our faith. "The desert is a dangerous place," we repeat at the beginning of each story. "You could lose your way there and even die there." We include this in our telling of the stories because faith has the potential to grow stronger in the context of danger. Paradoxically, the aim of a Godly Play circle is to provide a safe space where children can reflect on the value of danger.)

So there are a few strategies used in this story to help the children reflect meaningfully on the mystery of pain in the midst of Christ's advent. One strategy is through the usual storytelling method: a slower, quieter, reverent tone.

The second strategy is, of course, the wondering time and the response time in which the children can work out what they think and feel about aspects of the story. The idea is that the leaders observe how the children are responding to the more troublesome aspects of the story and then spiritually nurture them through those issues.

The story's artwork itself represents a third strategy: the various scenes are presented by means of classical art--Giotto's paintings. I can assure you the paintings are not gory nor do they glorify the violence. By using classical art to reflect on this narrative, the children are also prepared to engage with artistic representations they would likely see in the course of their regular, "real world" experiences (in museums, for example). This format is quite distinct from (for example) the David C. Cook approach in which Bible characters often are portrayed in comic book fashion. I've seen children shout, "Cool!" when looking at some of Cook's representations of Old Testament battle scenes. It is simply deplorable that some Christian publishers aim to elicit that kind of response from children to scenes we should find repulsive. That said, the Godly Play approach tries to approach the harder parts of the faith with reverence and due respect.

There is one final strategy that is used in this particular story: the teacher is instructed to talk about that part of the story while holding the plaque in such a way that the picture is hidden for most of the narrative. Only at the very last portion of part 6 does the teacher show the picture to the children and then the story moves on to the Flight into Egypt so as not to shock the children too much.

That said: naturally, some children will remember plaque 6 more than the others because of what it portrays. I do hope, however, that it is not something that is giving the children nightmares or troubling them overmuch. Certainly, this is an instance where children's ministry relies on the partnership of parents to nurture the children through questions they may have.

I will ask the other parents if they had any reactions from their children on this, however. We surely do not want to make our children anxious. For my part, I was pleased to see the 4th through 6th grade class engage with that part of the story respectfully. The children did not make light of it (as often older elementary children do) but nor did they dwell on it.

Thank you for trusting me with this. I truly appreciate it.

Please don't hesitate to call me if you have any more concerns. I would be happy to hear what's on your heart, friend.

Grateful for you,
Troy


……………………..

PlayFull offers training and provides resources for a method of children’s ministry called Godly Play. Write Troy to inquire how we may be able to help you.

01 January 2014

ICU, I See You

This gift is yours
if you will accept it.
Taken on its own
it is by no means the most costly.
Later I will give you
a certain formless gift,
bottled in my attempt
to contain matchless beauty—
but for today I offer you
gold, once molten,
now hardened, shaped
and polished—a sign
of fidelity—not mine,
yours. Take this token
so you will remember
to forgive my eternal
adulteries. Strings
disintegrate, metal endures,
as does your kingdom.
This gift is yours
if you will accept it.

And here is another gift.
When used it makes
           
the shape
          of
       wordless
prayer.

You never followed
our black and white liturgies
printed in neat rows on a press,
recited heartless by the masses.
Priest, your teaching is as the gray smoke
of incense burning, fragrant,
simultaneously stinging and soothing our senses,
mediating transcendence and immanence.
Pray for us sinners in this the hour of your death.
In your passing, bid us passage to the cloud of unknowing
so, contemplating your ineffability,
we may know your glory.

Finally, a third. Use it in wasteful extravagance
as if death will come by day’s end.
Break the bottle and let beauty flow where she will.

Why must you be liquid and wisp
and what will become of my ring, your ring?
Come back to me.
Do not leave.
You are my only true friend,
your love—the only perfect.

Prophet, give me an allegory of hope.
Christ, anointed one, save and reign.
Adam, dying one, resuscitate yourself—
for the breath of God surrounds you
as frankincense
and you are more boundless sea,
like the fragrance of myrrh,
than dust of land.

See these gifts?
They are worth more
than their set price.
Accept them in your mercy.



ICU, I See You
a poem by Troy Cady