Tuesday, January 21, 2014

they rose up to play

Somehow managed to push play on the bible without really being awake and so climbed into a partial consciousness as Israel was eating and then drinking and then rising up to play in the presence of a little gold in the shape of a calf. No big deal. Except then Moses and the Levites were killing anyone with the sword that looked crossways. (That's just my own early morning paraphrase.)

Obviously it is very stupid to be that idolatrous so soon after seeing God's rescuing power but it is the usual human way. We have the staying power of fleas and love to worship whatever we can find as soon as we can possibly get our grubby mitts on it.

The part that jumped out at me, again, was 'rose up to play'. I have a whole gaggle of lovely new little people in my Level One Atrium (Sunday School, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd)--two and sometimes three little boys, and five little girls twirling in their pretty dresses and shouting at each other. My first and main task, apart from the lesson and the singing, has been to develop a culture of Work. The child walks (not runs) into the room and fixes on something to Work with. Sometimes a child will walk in and stand about not landing on anything and then I come along on my hands and knees (feeling very old) and say, "Let me help you find some work. Would you like to work with the Good Shepherd? Would you like to polish? Would you like to trace? " and I run down the whole list of everything in the room that was put there especially for the child. It takes two months, usually, to get children to stop saying 'Play' and start saying 'Work' (longer for grow ups) but the difference is important.

Adam was given useful work in the garden. Useful, that is, for him. The work was prepared for him ahead of time. But the people of Israel rose up to play. They were hanging around not doing what they were supposed to do, and they landed on play. The atrium is supposed to be more like the garden then like Mount Sinai. The child gets to the mountain eventually, but when he is little, the garden of work is prepared specially for him. 

Of course, children should play. But even I know that the playing of children is useful for them as they grow. Their play is a kind of important work that sets them up to do real work later on. But now, in our culture, it is so hard to get anyone to stop playing and do any work. Even me, I chafe to think that I feel like I am always working and never playing. But there, in Exodus, the people were given work and rest, not work and play. But they didn't work or rest, they played. And they worshipped other gods.

This is, I am sorry, an incomplete sketch, but I have to go work so it will have to do.  

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