In your heart of hearts, would you like your green froggy lips kissed by royalty so that you will turn into what you really are? Or would you like to avoid being fooled by a wolf dressed up as your grandmother? Or to be the wisest of your siblings because your house is made of bricks instead of sticks or straw?
I read this morning that fairy tales can help us understand our deepest desires.* Because of the universal nature of their pictures and symbols, they connect with something in us that is deeply human.
It caught my attention because I have been thinking about praying being like playing. That might sound strange to you if you think of prayer as being something quite somber, but it seems to me that imagination is a crucial part of the whole business of communicating with God.
Some of my best times of prayer have been when I’ve accessed the child in me. Sometimes being an adult keeps us too cautious, too self-protected and self-conscious. Every once in a while, I like to get out my colouring pencils and play and try to listen to what God might be saying to me. (I did the picture above this morning. It’s meant to be a nest- just to save you from having to ask!)
I don’t think that children make such a clear divide between playing and praying. Recently, our youngest has taken it upon himself to write some prayers for us to use and some questions for us to talk about on our ‘prayer stair’. It’s a wonderful mixture of playing and prayer. I’m not sure he would see a distinction anyway.
Jesus, of course, told people that the way to be part of God’s kingdom is to become like children. I think that might mean a bit more playing.
*Landmarks, by Margaret Silf