“Two Dogs on a Trip to France”

The days are getting longer, and I am busy feeling thankful. I’m enjoying my work and the sunshine, being able to eat lunch outdoors, and the rhythms of life in the house.

This week I had the joys of Jacquie staying, three games of Catan with friends, a fleeting visit from Katherine sharing a lotus cookie above the city mid-morning, a tenth parkrun (featuring a blister but also a PB edging me closer to the half hour mark), the unexpected enjoyment I found reading the ‘Power of Geography’, and the satisfaction of fitting in some roller-skating to finish the week.

Today I was preaching at St Polycarps for the first time, on Acts 13:44-52. Speaking is challenging because you can’t be anyone else when you speak, and leaning into your own you-ness feels vulnerable. I have learned (via the spontaneous speaking opportunities on the Relay) that I actually find it easier to do that leaning-into when there aren’t any notes to hide behind. So today I did my preaching from a piece of paper with the verses I needed and some prompt phrases so I could track where I was going. It felt really good to push myself into speaking in a new setting, and in another peak of my Anglicanism, I had a services register to sign afterwards.

I spent this afternoon at IKEA with Faith and Marin. We spent an incredible length of time re-enacting Goldilocks, writing a script for a puppet show (“Two Dogs on a Trip to France”), and re-filling soft drinks in various flavour combinations. It was a long but very fun five (!) hours.

I love how few pretensions kids have, and how eager they are to enter into play. There were so many giggles across the afternoon, and I can’t recall a single reason for any of them!

Our time together made me reflect on how much time we spend teaching kids to start pretending and to stop playing. We teach them to not be quite so blunt, we react with displeasure when they express their sadness or drag their heels over things, we call time on their fun, we tell them to “calm down” and we spend time wondering if their presence is infringing on others.

Sometimes there are good reasons for this, but other times it is our own adult seriousness and preoccupations and those of others that we’re protective of.

One such moment occurred as, while we were waiting at the tram stop, I ended up being noisily ‘imprisoned’ for my crime of panda-related thievery. I was overly conscious of the more (grumpy-looking) elderly woman whose peace I imagined we were interrupting. She then playfully suggested to Faith and Marin that they might need to set a password for me to guess in order to be freed, and I quickly reassessed my previous judgement…

There is a lot of play and not a lot of pretense in an afternoon spent with Faith and Marin. I am ending the day thinking that I have a lot to learn from them about how to stop pretending and start playing. It might make preaching a bit easier.

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