Play. Rest. Relate.
At Refuge, we seek to share many values with the kids and families we serve: hard work, healing through serving others, the importance of community and connection, God’s revelation of Himself through nature, and definitely not least of these…the importance of play. When I pray for the Ranch, I frequently pray that there will be a spirit of fun and play at the Ranch? Why?
Our fast-paced, results based society has largely lost the art of play. We focus on efficiency and productivity and leave little room for relationship, rest, and recreation. Play is not useless activity! In play, we reveal and experience being made in the image of God – Who does not create for the sake of efficiency or productivity but for joy and relationship!
I see this reality reflected even in the horses who come to the Ranch. Like some of the people who frequent the Ranch, many of the horses come walled up and shut down relationally. When I go out to halter a new horse, often I can physically see the change as they shut down and retreat inside of themselves. They are so used to being pulled out and put to work – used as an object rather than regarded as a living creature who is part of a relational equation – they have learned to simply withdraw and check out long enough to tolerate the interaction. As I work with our horses, I make every effort to begin to draw them out of this place. We encourage our volunteers and kids to spend extra time grooming to find that sweet spot that might make a horse’s lip wiggle with pleasure. I take time with them on the ground, encouraging them to express curiosity and explore the environment around them. I try to spend time just being with them – not asking anything of them beyond presence and relationship. It is so much fun to watch a horse, who started out very indifferent to people, slowly become more and more relational – seeking out time with humans rather than avoiding it or to see them begin to engage in our time together with interest and curiosity rather than resigned tolerance.
In fact, aren’t these are things we all long for at the core of who we are – relationship, connection, rest, play, someone who values us for who we are, not just what they can get from us? These things are not optional…they are as vital to our body and soul as food and water and shelter. When we make them a priority, our hearts find increased capacity to love and serve and be poured out for the sake of others!
How can you foster these things in your life today – for yourself, your kids, your spouse, someone around you who is hurting? Take time to play. To rest. To share space with someone for no other reason than the joy of their presence. No moment spent resting, playing or relating is a moment wasted.