This past week I helped out with the after-school program at church. It was a blessing to walk away from editing, move details, and dealing with a squirrel that’s found a way into my veggie cage, and just spend time with children. Since I’m not in charge of the program, I’m able to just live in each moment, moving from one activity to the next, alongside the children, sometimes being disciplinarian, but most of the time being able to relax and just hang out with them.
Part of every after-school program is time on the playground. Often I’ll join the kickball game, but this week I was content to sit on the swings, alongside a couple of the girls, enjoying a stunningly beautiful fall day. Nearby trees were clothed in yellows, oranges, reds, and purples, with a clear blue backdrop of sky behind them.
At some point I found myself looking at the chains on the swings and the leaves on the ground and wondering if I might weave them together. This autumn art was the result. The girls joined me for a few moments, weaving leaf stems into the chains, swinging on the swing, then returned to their own imaginary games.
Another girl came along and wouldn’t swing until she had ripped out every leaf from the chains. I watched, and chose not to say anything, but I was sad that she didn’t see the beauty, the fun, or the enjoyment in taking a different view of something.
Fortunately, even as she was ripping out the leaves, I was also able to remain grateful for the chance to live in that autumn moment. I knew that, soon enough, I would be returning to work, piles of boxes, and the need to find a creative solution to my squirrel invasion.
Every one of us has a choice, in every moment. We can take a good look at what’s around us, and we can embrace the opportunity to create something new, or we can destroy what others have made and claim the “standard” view as the best—or only—option.
When is the last time you’ve played on a playground?
When have you taken a few simple things and combined them in unexpected ways?
Do you find yourself inclined to believe that there is only one option, or one way of doing things? Do you force that view on others?