I had always been one for cleaning up children’s toys at the end of the day, leaving everything clear and ready for the next day.
There was always the question there – “Was I being perfectionistic?,” “Did I have a problem with a messy house or ‘struggle with clutter’?” and then I realised that it was the order that brought simplicity.
It allowed for me to be present with less distraction in the flow of my day. It was one of the loving things I could bring to me.
From when my three children were small, I found that separating their toys into plastic, coloured crates worked well, with each crate holding a selection of bits and pieces. The crates of toys were kept at the top of the linen press where the children could not reach them, unless they asked an adult to get them down.
What would usually happen is that one of the children would select a coloured crate and I would get it down from the top of the cupboard. They always seemed to know which coloured crate carried which items of play.
The children never seemed to grow tired of their toys and getting down the crate seemed like getting a new present each time. It was like a surprise all over again and sometimes it appeared like the children were greeting old friends they hadn’t seen for a long time.
There were no rules around their play but they all knew that once the play was done with that particular selection of toys, they were responsible for picking up all the bits and putting them back in the crate. When the crate was put back on the shelf, a second crate could be selected.
I loved the fact that this way of playing with their toys allowed order and consistency within the family. It allowed space for each of us to just ‘Be’ and especially for the children to just ‘Be’. It was clear how it all worked and that everyone was treated the same.
Now thirty years on… I have come to realise the profound healing play offers. Recently I had my three grandchildren over for a play, and even now I plan and organise for the little ones in the same way.
What I sense is that these little ones are playing out their experience of life. The energy held in their bodies is expressed in their play and they are constantly releasing whatever needs to be released.
By allowing this organised play, and the release through expression in play, what is deeply held in their little bodies is finished and what needs to be resolved has been resolved and is gone. Once finished, the children are ready to move on to the next thing on offer.
As I moved around on this day, taking the opportunity whilst they were immersed in the next bout of play, I strategically and methodically cleaned up the scatter of toys, replacing them in their boxes, putting them back leaving a ‘clean slate’ for the next unfolding.
After a while the children returned to the same area and began to play there once again but in a different way. It was so clear that they had returned to now re-imprint the area with something new – a new way.
Pondering on life, I have come to know that we too choose to live our lives in a certain way, a way that often allows us to feel ‘comfortable,’ but that the pattern of learning and unfolding can be the same as for these little ones.
As adults too, we can keep returning to ‘old’ patterns or ways of being because that is what we know, even when they don’t work, sometimes stubbornly holding on because the old way is familiar and comfortable.
There were times when I would feel hurt, but instead of being honest, I would go into blaming someone else and choose to use silence as a form of punishing them. I would become righteous. All this was simply in order to not feel the hurt that had been exposed.
Life is the perfect medium for allowing us to become more aware of how we allow ourselves to be distracted from what is true and to ‘keep returning’ to re-imprint those areas where we have not been true to ourselves.
God has an amazing plan for us all; he knows that, given the space for this organised play, we will play out what needs to be expressed and in that play uncover a little more of who we truly are – the essence of which is already known.
God’s plan allows for the mess, the outplay and, when it is all finished, God allows the space for us to pack it all up and put it away, waiting for the next call from us to play out something new.
Like my beautiful children and my amazing grandchildren in their play, we too are constantly selecting the box or area of building, creating, tearing down, digging deep, moving things around until the time comes that it is finished and the old pattern is gone.
The time comes after many tries that the games we have been playing are made redundant and our connection to who we are, our connection to others, our connection to God is much clearer and the props are no longer needed. We have returned home to the truth.
God knows there will be no more messes, no more boxes tipped out, no more carnage left over – just the presence of our pure ‘Being’ – LOVE.
by Christine Hogan, Receptionist, Bendigo