02 July 2020

my Breath


This morning
God went for a walk
in the city
in the cool
of the day
and, on the way
to the park’s trail,
she saw evidence
of civilization
but no signs of life.

She breathed
Yahweh,
her name,
pairing each syllable
with each inhale
and exhale,
as if to
resuscitate us,
to whisper
us awake,
sharing the rise
and fall
of respiration,
praying for
a resurrection
on her way
to the trail.

So, I wait
for her return,
here in the
rising heat
of the day.
The waiting,
my prayer,
the long wait
of longing,

Come home,
dear Lord,
come home.
I have arisen
from death.
Return,
my life,
my Breath.

………………………….

my Breath
by troy cady
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21 June 2020

fathering


I live to know the joy
of just walking with you,
my child. To relish
the tall grass and
blooming red flowers,
to keep the peace
of simple love in silence,
to feel the soft breeze
do no violence
to hope, to mark
the beauty of your face,
the grace growing
within and between us—
I bind myself to you
and in this I find liberty.

………………

fathering
by troy cady
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14 June 2020

enfolded


let these wrinkles be to me
the signs of a soul growing into
the folds of an aging body
a record of laughter
the story of hope in suffering
long stretches of silence
making peace with shadow
creased joy and tough love
memories of your touch
the gentle caress
of a trembling heart
as if skin could teach me
how to be at home in myself
by making a home in You

……………..

enfolded
by troy cady
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12 June 2020

Love Your Enemies



“Love your enemy.” There are hardly three words we could string together that would produce more inner dissonance than these. And, yet: if we cannot learn to love our enemies, we will only continue to reap more hatred, more division, more strife.

The expression “our world is falling apart” conveys only a half-truth. If we are to be completely honest, we need to acknowledge it has been falling apart for a long time now. For as long as we have made enemies of one another…that is how long the world has been falling apart. That is since the very dawn of humanity.

So: who is my enemy and how am I to love them? Everyone has an enemy. They are the people we hate. That is how we know who our enemy is. As someone who claims to follow Jesus, it is both shocking and troubling to me that it is very easy for me to identify my enemies. How quickly their names come to mind! How sad it is that I have risked so little to love them, and how safe I feel preserving their status as “the enemy” in my heart and mind.

How am I to love such a person? How am I to love such a group? How is “my group” to love “their group”? Within the answers to those questions we find the source of a true and lasting hope. This is the difficult work of loving one’s enemies.

At its core, what we are after is an end to Othering the other. At its core, the work of loving one’s enemies involves laying aside the mindset of “us vs. them”, the “home team” against “the visitors.”

How we speak of one another matters. Do my words dignify or only serve to divide? Labeling does not help the situation.

An enemy is still a human. Do my words humanize? In my mind, do I think of my enemy…as human? Is my heart able to see the humanity in my enemy, even the enemy who dehumanizes another? If I answer someone’s dehumanizing words and actions by dehumanizing them in return, what progress have I made? I must come to see that I cannot take a stand for truth by dehumanizing another, since truth is always a humanizing force. The commonality of our very humanity…rests upon truth. Truth dignifies.

These questions make me so uncomfortable. Surely this is the hardest thing to do…to love one’s enemy. And, yet: if we are to know peace within and without, it is the one task that must be done.

To be sure, there is hope. This has been done before. Enemies can become friends.

Surely this moment in history is a moment where we all have plenty of opportunities to practice loving our enemies. We will never perfect the art of it, but let us not give up rehearsing the new rhythms of it. We can take a stand for truth and humanize the Other at the same time. It’s hard, but we can do it.

We must do it. It is the only way out of our divisive enmity. May it be so.

…………………

Love Your Enemies
reflections by troy cady
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10 June 2020

Fighting for Peace




In a world overcome by violence, peace appears as a disruption that at first feels strange, counter-intuitive, even foolish. This is why true and lasting peace can only come with practice, countless rehearsals of non-violence. Day after day after day, we rehearse this way of deeper courage, longer endurance such that the very sign of today’s protest reflects the vision we have for a better tomorrow.

Fortunately, the sign of the future peace for which we long has already been shown to us by the peaceful One who has gone before and is in our midst even now. Christ, the Prince of Peace, invites us to rehearse the way of non-violence, to wrap ourselves in His very heart—for He Himself is The Way and He Himself is our Peace. In Christ, we see that the open hand (more than the clenched fist) disrupts the cycle of violence. Thus: as we work for peace, we take our place by His side, willing to lay down our life, willing to disrupt the cycle, fighting by refusing to fight on the world’s terms of violence—fighting the fight on heaven’s terms, beating swords into ploughshares.

To win this “fight” God does not raise up an “army,” per se. The people whom God raises up are not armed with the weapons of this world. Indeed, God’s people are empty-handed, open-armed. In this way, God raises up an alternative community which itself is to be a sign and foretaste of the lasting peace that God has in mind.  It is the community of the Beloved.  We enter the fight with open hands, hearts bared, laying it all on the line for the sake of love, even love for our enemy.

If we wish to disrupt the cycle of violence, let us rehearse love for our enemy. To rehearse such a strange love, we will need to wrap our lives in the One who has perfected the art of loving like that. As we do so, we will soon discover that we ourselves are the enemy He has loved. And we are joined by countless others who have been strengthened by the same love, even our own enemies. This is the community of the Beloved. This changes everything.

…………………

Fighting for Peace
reflections by troy cady
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*Sculpture: “Love” by Alexander Milov; photographed by Andrew Miller.

08 June 2020

crying out. protest.


in the swarming chaos
I cry out for a center
a place of remembrance
a time when all is love
each breath sacred and counted
as if the soul could carry grace
the spirit swollen as pregnancy
and hope late-term breaks forth
breaking the fear
of another miscarriage

I cry out from the center
where the tremors intensify
and in my mind’s eye
I can see the beauty in the pain
the sweat as raindrops
these tears, the water,
this joy-in-sorrow life

I cry out in the center
praying God’s warm breath
would catch my dry throat
even as these open hands enfold
this new life in love,
these tears, the water,
this joy-in-suffering life


…………………………


crying out. protest.
by troy cady
6/8/20
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01 June 2020

an invitation to gentleness




The strength of gentleness lies in its capacity to open us up, to come face to face, to stop, to slow down, to look and listen. Gentleness cannot be hurried. In gentleness we are able to face our fears. Quietly we speak. We recover ourselves. It is safe to be human again. We find that which we had lost in the violence—our better selves. Gentleness invites us out of hiding and gives us both the wisdom and the courage to stop fighting bullets with bullets. Gentleness teaches us to take our stand not in fits of rage but in hope, praying and believing that day will follow day. We trust to hope. And hope grows such that we make plans to walk the way of peace for a lifetime, step by step. Our resolutions become more than mere momentary reactions. Words emerge—healing and wise words—from a full and present silence, a silence borne of gentleness that quiets the confusion, chaos, noise and clamor within. Mark how gently life itself endures, as gentle as breath itself.

………………..

an invitation to gentleness
reflections by troy cady
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*Photo by Georgia de Lotz via Unsplash. Creative Commons License.


31 May 2020

Pentecost: God Dances Like a Flame Within

Today, I remember the significance of the promise Jesus made to his disciples shortly after his resurrection. It was a promise that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit, the Church is sent to serve as Jesus served, to be a sign of hope, to reflect here and now the joy and love of the kingdom of God that shall never fade. In Acts 2, we read a record of how this new work in and through the Church was inaugurated during the Feast of Pentecost--and that good work is still continuing today. In this short video, I share the story of Acts 1 and 2 by using materials I've created to help both young and old receive the kingdom of God like little children. I hope you enjoy it.



Email subscribers: click this link to view the video onYouTube.

If you are interested in obtaining these materials for use in your church or home setting, email Troy at troy@playfull.orgtroy@playfull.org for details.

At PlayFull, we believe that play is so much more than just a form of superficial escapism. It expresses something fundamental about what it means to be human and it shapes us, both individually and as a society. To learn more about the enduring value of playfulness, keep in touch with PlayFull by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and subscribing to this blog (subscription options are located in the left sidebar).



19 May 2020

A Person of Peace




Good morning, friends. I know this may sound na├»ve and idealistic but today I just want to encourage everyone to be a person of peace. You never know who you might interact with today who is struggling with something, carrying burdens. It is possible (probable?) we will never know the story of most people we will encounter today. When we read or hear something we disagree with, it’s good to remember that we may not be getting the whole picture of what the person is trying to say, the experience out of which the person is speaking.

It is easier to misunderstand than to understand. Understanding requires reflection, listening, seeking clarification more than validation. Sometimes it means giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, seeing the best in them. Name-calling and pigeon-holing prove counterproductive to this end. No one ever felt understood via aggressive or hostile treatment; in the same vein, no one comes to understand the other when they are regarded in ways that are demeaning or belittling. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”

We all have a limited view of others. To grow as a human being is to enlarge one’s ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes. The hardest words we may ever have to live by are these: “Judge not lest you be judged.” Sadly, it may also be true that those who have the hardest time living by these words are those who claim to follow the one who spoke them.

My own experience is one of both darkness and light. My guess is that your experience is a mixture, too. On social media, for example, I’m troubled by the many ways we demean others and are quick to judge. But I am also encouraged by the many ways I see people spreading the light, showing kindness, compassion and esteem for others. When the darkness seems to be growing, the only way to dispel it is to shine a light. Shine your light today, my friends. I will try my best to shine mine.

………………

a person of peace
reflections by troy cady
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16 May 2020

Wearing Masks


Look at me looking at you,
wearing our masks
the proper way—
eyes exposed.

When you look at me looking at you
what do you see?
Do these eyes smile,
can you see in them
the vulnerable intimacy of infancy,
the childhood joy
of hopscotch on sidewalks,
the firstfruits of spring?
Do you notice the shape
of love, trace
the line from forehead
through nose bridge,
from brow to brow?
Can you see the wonder
of a future then
cradled in present hope
right here, right now?

Look at me looking at you
as we briefly pass.
We are in this together,
wearing our masks
the proper way—
eyes open,
hearts exposed.

……………………………..

wearing masks
by troy cady
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27 April 2020

Deus in carne


 
A woman in Spain sings on her balcony during quarantine to cheer up her neighbors.

Deus in carne
reflections by troy cady

When I think of the human spirit, I think of strength and endurance. Disasters may strike, but we find a way to build once again. When a problem would seem to overcome us, we look for solutions and we do not give up until we have found them.

We will not just let life happen to us, as if we can only remain passive in the face of difficulty. No, we activate our will, we resolve to shape the world, we stir up the reserves we have within to make a difference…to heal, to help, to create.

This is part of what it means to be made “in the image of God.” That’s how the sacred writings put it. God, the Maker, has placed within us the very likeness of God’s own self, the capacity to be co-creators with God, the ability to have a say. God the good King shares the kingdom with us, shapes us to shape the world in love, just because of love.

But love can never be forced. It is an invitation. In that sense, it is one of many options. We can choose to be selfish and competitive, exclusive. Or, we can choose not to care, to remain frozen in fear, apathetic and victimized.

It never ceases to amaze me how even those who have been deeply traumatized find a way to carry on. The struggle to live continues even as the process of healing takes place. Healing may be slow, wholeness may be hard to realize, but we continue doing what needs to be done to lay hold of life, life and more life.

Life is stronger than death. We will not just lay down and die. And even in the face of death Christians proclaim the promise of a life-after-death, a second life. Hear the good news to a world submerged in trauma: life has the last word. By grace, this life is made available to all who would reach out for it in faith.

The Christian story is more than life-and-death. It is life-and-death-and-life. This matters because, before Jesus died and rose again, he lived the struggle that we are living. He lived it for more than 30 years before he died. And, though he was victimized in the struggle, he would not become a victim. Even in death he laid down his life willingly. If ever anyone had a say in how his life would go—in how his life would end—he did.

He was not only willing to lay down his life for others, he proved his willingness by actually doing it. He offered a work of untainted love from first to last. The world has never known love like that, never seen love as deep as that.

As someone who seeks to follow in his footsteps, I aspire to live out that kind of love, to give to the uttermost.

But I can only do this by faith. Faith is the process whereby I take Jesus’ life inside mine (to drink his cup) and I offer my life to be immersed in his (to be baptized in his baptism). Faith is infusion and immersion. It is like letting myself get caught up in joy.

Notice the mystery of faith: it is both active (something I do) and passive (something I allow to be done upon me and in me). But both the active and passive arcs of faith require a consent of my will. God never forces me to believe; it is an invitation, an invitation to be loved and to love.

I invite you to take a moment now and reach out by faith. Ask Jesus to live his life through yours and tell him (the living One) that you want to live your life within his.
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When I give this consent to God, the wonder is: the very Spirit of God comes to indwell my whole being—heart, soul, mind and strength. It is by the Spirit of God that I am set free from fear. It is by the Spirit that we are relieved from mere self-concern and delivered from apathy. The Spirit moves, so the Spirit invites me to move with Jesus.

By the Spirit, Jesus is more than a mere historical figure who died on a cross. He lives—which is to say: he rose again and he can live in us by faith. By his indwelling work we no longer have to rely on some kind of deus ex machina, a deliverance by God from the sky, an image of God relegated to mere mythology.

The Christian God is no deus ex machina. The Christian God is Deus in carne, God enfleshed. The call to the Christian is not to look for some divine deliverance without; it is to be in touch with the deliverance God has placed within.

You are the light.
You are the hands and feet.
God has placed the solution to the suffering of others in our hands.
The answer is in you and me.

This seems like a hard commission but the Spirit gives us the power to do this if we will but ask for it. By the Spirit we are moved to act, to heal, to help, to create, to love. The Spirit of Jesus calls us even to lay down our own life, if it comes to it. And the Spirit gives to each of us special gifts—things that only you can do—to be part of this great redemption story.

I wonder: what is your gift? What is it that makes you who you are, uniquely? Are you artistic? Do you have special musical abilities? Are you good with your hands? Do you move others with your words? Some people are especially good at putting others at ease. Others are really good at listening and helping people understand their feelings. Some are gifted in leadership. Some lead us to find joy by making us laugh and I know others who are especially good at asking questions that stir up the pot, unsettling us in a good way.

What’s your gift? It’s true there are limitations as to how some of us can use our gifts but if we are thoughtful and creative about it we can all find an outlet to serve the common good no matter the circumstances. So, I invite you to wonder: how may you offer your gifts to others during this time? And, I wonder: what strength do you need?

You will need rest and grace, to be sure. You’ll need to tend to your own self-care—that much is true. But I believe in the midst of our current struggles we can all make a difference. Don’t lose hope! God is working in you and through you to effect healing, to bring about new life even in the face of so much death.

May it be so. Amen and amen.

……………………


Troy Cady is the president of PlayFull, a ministry that seeks to help people and organizations play from the inside out. He is the author of PlayFull: Play as a Pathway to Personal & Relational Vitality, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition. To tap into more life-giving content, you are invited to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

25 April 2020

make me a person of peace


Lord, make me a person of peace.
Where there is bitter division,
help me to work for reconciliation.
When someone hurts me,
give me strength to forgive.
When I hurt another,
grant me the humility to seek forgiveness.
Give me understanding
in times of confusion and chaos.
Be my wisdom
when fear would darken
my mind and heart.
Remind me that even in death
you are the resurrection and the life.

Lord, you know that I worry about many things.
Still me within as you stilled the storm without.
Show me that I can count on you; I am just a child.
Nurture within me a quiet confidence in you
that grows stronger day by day.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace,
be in my mouth,
making my words gentle;
be in my eyes,
viewing others through the lens of grace;
be in my listening,
make me a true companion;
in my tasting,
fill my whole body with gratitude;
in my breathing,
take in the very scent of love;
let these hands heal,
and my feet go gladly
to the side of the needy.
Lord Jesus, my King,
move my feet, move my hands
to the rhythms of your peace.

………………….

make me a person of peace
by troy cady
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23 April 2020

8 Ways the Virus Could Change Us






8 Ways the Virus Could Change Us
reflections by Troy Cady

I’ve been reading lots of theories about how the pandemic will change us. I offer these 8 thoughts for your consideration.

1. Keep the long-range in view.
We can make educated guesses, but my suspicion is we cannot begin to fathom how our lives will be changed even long after the imminent physical threat has passed. Likely, it will not be until today’s youngest generation comes of age that society-at-large will be able to discern lasting meaning from this crisis. I feel it is the kind of event that will play a significant role in defining a generation. We would do well to keep the long-range in view.

2. An opportunity: begin practicing generosity now.
The economic implications could affect us all in deep, deep ways. Those who have means will have plenty of opportunities to practice generosity; I encourage us to begin practicing that now. We will also be stronger as a society if entrepreneurs can embed the value of generosity in the very ethos of whatever initiative they might undertake in the aftermath of the pandemic. We will all need to be much less selfish. Those who are consumed by the ideal of simply amassing wealth will miss out on much beauty that can be created if we can just learn to share more.

3. An invitation: put away our divisions.
Whatever is to come, however dark the days may be, we will only be able to flourish as a society if we look to one another and rely on the different strengths each has to offer, becoming champions of one another. United, we stand; divided, we fall.

4. Is our current situation comparable to past crises?
Comparisons to how society responded en masse to the Spanish flu crisis of the early 1900s are limited in their application to today’s challenge. For starters, our society has become more pluralized and polarized since that time. This puts our efforts towards unity to a greater test. If we can learn to direct our differences towards the common good, we will flourish. To the extent we fail to do this, I suppose we will languish.

5. Look at what is being revealed to us by this crisis.
There is already a given as to how the current pandemic will affect us. Prior to any transformative work the pandemic may produce, a threat of this nature offers a revelatory function. For example, the pandemic is already beginning to reveal in a new light the way our society is deeply, deeply fractured. And, yet, there is also hope to be found in how some are digging deep to bring out the best we have to offer. For those who are willing to look honestly and openly at what this crisis can reveal about just who we are, there is much insight to be gained on many fronts: socially, politically, artistically, and spiritually.

6. Religion has a wonderful opportunity to adapt.
Those who serve in formalized capacities within the field of organized religion (such as churches, synagogues, and mosques) need to consider now how they will engage this crisis in such a way that they will embrace long-term change proactively rather than succumbing to the delusion that the crisis itself will produce the change such institutions have sorely needed for many, many years now. Those organizations that rely on how people will (merely) naturally respond once the immediate threat has diminished will enjoy the kind of revival they desire only on a temporary basis. The law of homeostasis will gradually lull those who experience an immediate flash of renewed fervor back into the comfortable patterns that have been killing religious institutions for some time now.

7. Beware the law of homeostasis.
That same law (homeostasis) will also yield the same kind of long-term results in other fields (such as education, economics, care for the environment, and questions of social equity) if we are not intentionally reflective and proactive about how we wish to change. A reactive approach can only yield temporary measures (at best) and destructive trajectories (at worst). When we rely on how the crisis itself will change society (without factoring in the powerful dynamic of human agency and creativity) we fall prey ultimately to various shades of mere determinism.

8. Hardship alone doesn’t change much; desire changes more.
Going through hardship alone does not produce the kind of change we need. Hardship gives us an opportunity to change, but it alone cannot change us for the better. While it is true that most of the time we do not change unless we must, it is also true that lasting change is rooted in true desire. How much do we really WANT to change? That is the key question. Now is a time to put sober (yet open-minded/playful) thought into it. Now is the time to dream of new possibilities. Now is the time to muster the resolve, strength, and courage to go after those dreams. May God give us the grace we need to do just that. May God give us the grace to come together to make those dreams come true.

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Play from the inside out. We invite you to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading! 



17 April 2020

communal immunity


I am unequal to the challenge of isolation.
We are not designed to be distant,
to live in quarantine.
A human is not a vegetable;
we do not grow in pods.
Flat screens fail to convey
the warp of sorrow,
the curvature of joy,
the way time and space fold.
Only together may we fully see
the depth of loss—
alone, we have no reference point.
Even those who are born early
long for the day when they
can live fully skin to skin.
Until then, the soul reads blindly
by touch, feeling fingerprint ridges,
growing towards the taste of Mother,
the antibodies of human kindness,
her soft scent,
gentle warmth,
soothing voice,
playful song.

…………………….

communal immunity
by troy cady   
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Thank you for reading. We invite you to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

15 April 2020

notes on good teamwork

Me and my colleagues at Grace Covenant Church

One of the challenges many people are facing during this unusual season pertains to the dynamic of teamwork. Because of the good teamwork that I (Troy) enjoy with my colleagues at Grace Covenant Church in Chicago, I’m mindful today of how healthy teams continue to break new ground.

A healthy team is especially invaluable when the going gets tough. As I have been thinking about this, I wanted to share some factors that I commend to you in your own team relationships during the current crisis.

A. Wonder and explore together. Keep in mind that you are on the same team; when obstacles arise, exploring solutions in a spirit of togetherness makes all the difference. Ask questions, listen well, and hold ideas loosely…be willing to be changed, to be influenced.

B. Be gentle and go slow. Trust that what must get done will get done; we don’t need to force anything. Keep in mind that everyone is under a lot of pressure these days, both personally and professionally. As we work together to ease one another’s burdens, we create better conditions for success.

C. Play to one another’s strengths and check with your teammates whether you are using your own strengths in ways that are truly helpful. Encourage one another in those instances when you see someone using their strengths in ways that serve the overall good.

D. Be a person of your word. If you say you will do something, do it. Integrity is priceless. Be faithful to the important role you play.

E. Be flexible; adopt the posture of a servant. Be willing to pitch in when extra help is needed, even if it isn’t in your official “job description.” Keep in mind that sometimes important work arises that does not fit in anyone’s job description.

F. Encourage creativity, imagination and the development of fresh approaches. When something new is being tested, give as much space and grace for failure as possible. Maximizing innovative ideas takes time; be patient.  

To be sure, there are more factors I could have listed but these come to mind especially during these unusual days. Perhaps you'd like to add your own? In any case, be well, my friends!

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I write about healthy teamwork in my book on play, because a playful team is a healthy team. The book is available in paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon

If you'd like someone to coach you or help you nurture healthy teamwork during this challenging time, reach out to me (Troy Cady) to explore if there is any way I can be of service to you. 

And, while you're here: I also invite you to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

13 April 2020

The Easter Story

The Easter story: When all seems lost, new life emerges. Every hope I have...is found in Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead. By His grace, all my fears and failures are washed away. Yes, I do believe. And, because He is alive, His Spirit invites you to believe with me. He is risen; He is risen, indeed!




Play from the inside out. Thank you for watching! We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Happy Easter!