• Michelle Whitlock

The Joy of Play


Lately I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us.” Her Sept 23rd episode included her thoughts on exhaustion and restoration. Many of us have reached our limit at some point during this pandemic. We often feel exhausted and we’ve maxed out our capacity to cope with crisis. The adrenaline is gone. We have hit a wall.


A pandemic is similar to a natural disaster. There is an immediate crisis and an ongoing, long-term recovery. But in a pandemic, the crisis continues even while we are trying to begin recovery. This became so relevant to me when we had to cancel things this week as the pandemic came closer to the congregation. As I am writing this, we are still awaiting test results for the individual that was exposed and there are still a lot of unknowns. Even as we try to plan and recover, we are still in the middle of the crisis.


The same podcast offered a way to recharge our energy and our ability to cope: Play.

The key here is how play is defined - as time spent without purpose. Doing something simply because it brings us joy. HIking, running, camping, gardening, sports… what are the things that you do to recharge? In my sermon on Sunday I talked about music as my rock - the thing that grounds me and reconnects me to God. Creating music might also be considered some of my play time. But I have other things that bring me joy without any particular purpose. One of them is adult coloring. Its therapeutic and relaxing to take out my colored pencils and create something beautiful.


I also have things that are part of my job that bring me joy. I enjoy those things, but they don’t recharge me in the same way as coloring or singing. They have a purpose, and often a deadline that can become stressful instead of playful. When things rae playful, they bring us joy with no strings attached.


So, take some time to play and recharge, it’s the only way we will have the capacity to keep living in the midst of a pandemic.


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