Come Play With Me

Are you mischievous? Do you like to stir things up? Not necessarily to cause trouble but to shake life out of its routines and patterns as a way to create joy and laughter. Do you find spontaneous ways to play on a regular basis?

Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash

A number of years ago, my sister and I took a road trip from Virginia to Indiana to attend our cousin’s wedding. Our route involved a number of toll roads that required repeated stopping at toll booths, waiting in line, scrambling to see if we had the correct change left, and finally handing the money over to a toll booth attendant who managed to appear both frazzled and bored. At some point we decided to have some fun with this tedium and we started paying the toll for the car behind us. The way that we saw it paying for someone else would shock the zoned out attendant and turn her into both an unwitting accomplice and an active participant in our scheme. The person behind us would be both pleasantly surprised and extremely curious. Both the attendant and the driver behind us would, hopefully, experience a moment of joy. We got the satisfaction of springing a surprise and delivering a moment of unexpected joy that would stick with the recipients all day as we slipped off unnoticed. We quietly spread joyous havoc across three states that day.

For my sister and I pulling these kinds of small surprises has become a life-long habit. Making someone’s day for the price of an ice-cream cone, a cup of coffee, or a couple of quarters in an expired parking meter is a great return on my investment. This history of playfulness made my ears perk up when I heard a story in a news broadcast a few weeks ago. At a Dairy Queen in a small town, a customer at the drive-thru window handed the cashier a twenty-dollar-bill and told the cashier that it was to pay for the car behind him. The next driver was quite surprised and, on the spur of the moment, paid for the driver behind her. A third driver and then a fourth all joined in. The cashier began telling the customers, “You are the fourth person to pay it forward, you are the fifth.” The store employees had never seen anything quite like it and one of them called the local radio station to report what was going on. As people heard the story on the radio, more and more people came to the drive-thru just to participate. Knowing that some customers wouldn’t have the money to pay for the car behind them, some drivers gave extra money to the cashier just to keep the chain going. By closing time the unbroken chain of goodwill stretched more than nine-hundred cars.

Right now our church is in the midst of a sabbatical renewal season for us and for our pastor. This is a time to relax and to rejuvenate. Even a time to play. When we are little, our only job in life is to play. Play is how we learn and how we make sense of our world. When my children were small my favorite time of the day would be when I came home from work and a tiny hand would grab mine and a voice would insist, “Daddy, come play with me!” Soon I would be pushing Zach in the swing or I would be down on the floor with Carl building a massive railroad layout and making up stories for all of the people who were travelling.

I would like to invite you to come play with me. Let us all play together so that we might be renewed and refreshed. There might even be spontaneous outbreaks of joy. Let’s be mischievous! In this season of stewardship and giving let’s find ways to spread love and joy with the abundance that we have been given. Everyone can play whether you have a dollar or you have a million. Where else can you play where everyone receives love and joy and surprise, the ante is small, and there are no losers?

Blessings to you my friends,

Carry Bailey

Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash