Over the last few years we have begun to realize the importance of free, unstructured play for children. Pieces of time left as a white canvas for children to write their own unhindered, imaginative scripts upon.
Yet play is also essential for adults too.
While watching the movie "Babies" the other day with the girls I was amazed to observe how much time both the women and children of a Namibian tribe spent simply relaxing. Far more so than the women and children of the modern, industrial nations portrayed.
Free, unstructured, unplanned time is so important for the human spirit.
It is the soil in which creativity and relationships grow.
To be a good mother, a good wife and a good friend I also need to be good to myself.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean that in a narcissistic way at all.
My greatest peace, contentment and joy has emerged since I gave up on simply trying to please myself.
Knowing that really the only thing within my control is my own perspective has been transformative.
And when I first gazed into my daughter's eyes 13 years ago love caused me to overcome myself and find true joy in another persons smile.
I have even come to believe this is what Jesus means about losing your life to find it.
Yet there are some things that just flow from my spirit and give me joy. Things that nurture me so that I can pour out again and give from myself. These things also renew, refresh and clarify my perspective. That place of seeing from which my energy derives. With a good perspective I can see the path ahead clearly.
I need some time to simply be alone.
I need time for writing, reading, creating, being in nature, praying, day dreaming, beholding beauty.
These things feed my soul and give me the energy to give again.
Learning to make peace with the fact that I must pause when necessary and take drafts of my own particular soul foods is something that I've done more and more since the children have been home schooled.
I have seen how important it is to let the day bring it's own rhythm and create it's own spaces for us to simply "be".
It can be tempting in the culture of incessant doing that we live in to scribble lists and plans across these perfectly unabashed empty "spaces". But from experience I have found this to be a big mistake.
Regular breaks where we can reconnect with ourselves and one another and a free flowing embracing of the children's individual interests throughout the day has reactivated a sense of my own priorities.
Happiness is a real priority for me, not a luxury to be kept on the margins of "real life."
I have started to really see that the path I walk is carved by my own two hands and my own two feet.
This road is made up of the steps I choose to take.... Or not take.
This road could be molded only of moments sat upon the earth, barefoot and feeling the cool grass between my toes. Nothing more, and that would be enough.
Life. It's not a race, a competition or an exam. It's a becoming.
A slow awakening.
It's an embrace and a letting go all at the same time.
It's a process of learning how to let the things that truly matter come first.
My particular path is made up of things I choose to spend time on.
It is made up of the things I pick up and the things I choose to let go of.
It is made up of my thoughts.
The ones I choose to keep. Which usually means the ones that lift my heart rather than sink it.
And so I will feed my soul it's food because food = life.
I will play.
One thing I have come to realize particularly since homeschooling the girls is that my own inner energy imprints upon the days like ink on blotting paper.
The children simply soak up my attitude like sponges.
That means that maintaining my own sense of peace is so important.
The energy we generate has a direct effect on those around us and even on the world.
There is an old orthodox saying which says that if one man truly embraces the peace of God he will heal a thousand around him without even knowing it.
Only when my own soul is filled with goodness, may goodness overspill into the cupped hands of those around me.