The play/prayer imperative...

It is fascinating (to me) that 47 years after writing Feast of Fools, Harvey Cox's little book still
rings true - and vital. In a chapter entitled, "Christ as Harlequin," Cox writes: "Not only are prayer and play analogous, but their kinship provides us with a sound contemporary access to both our religious tradition and the future." He adds that Hugo Rahner, the Roman Catholic philosopher and author of Man (sic) at Play, describes play in words that could be used almost verbatim to describe prayer.

To play is to yield oneself to a kind of magic, to enact to oneself the absolutely other, to pre-empt the future, to give the lie to the inconvenient world of fact. In play earthly realities become, of a sudden, things of the transient moment, presently left behind, then disposed of and buried in the past; the mind is prepared to accept the unimagined and incredible, to enter a world where different laws apply, to be relieved of all the weights that bear it down, to be free, kingly (sic ?), unfettered and divine.

What greater insight into the importance of learning/relearning the transformative power of imagination, play and prayer? In a realm that continues to be addicted to the bottom line - the results obsessed world of Donald Trump et al - the world of play and prayer becomes imperative: how else can we trust God's grace and claim a foretaste of the eternal within the present moment?  If my sabbatical gave me no other gift (and it did) it would be what it feels like to rest and trust without fretting for four months. Now I am hungry to reclaim not the abandon of that time (completely) but the blessing within the core of my return to ministry. 


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