When I was in grade school, the cool things to do were to clog the blue slide with as many girls as could fit, and to wait in the forever long line for a turn on the swings. I wasn’t too fascinated with either of these things when I first began public school in 4th grade, but every once in a while I just felt the need to fly. I would wait in line, hoping that the bell wouldn’t ring before I reached the swing set. And when my turn came I would pump my legs as hard as I could, and I would tilt my head over the tops of the heads of those below, over the buildings, over the horizon; and I would wonder at the beauty and the blueness of the sky.
The swings became a place of playground worship. They were a quiet place for me, a place where I felt close to the God that I knew was looking down at me from those puffy white clouds, from the infinite blue, and who at the same time was inhabiting me with His holy spirit. It was a time of comfort. This was the place where I hummed, I sang—tunes and words of songs that I had never heard of before, and that i can no longer remember. When I was on the swings I always felt that I might just float right up, up and away to heaven.
In the middle school years the swings were still a constant retreat for me. When I needed to get away from fickle friends and the fickle world I would sit and swing my heart out, and it always made me feel so much better; so much closer to God. In high school we didn’t have a play ground, but before my sophomore year we moved to Highlands Ranch and there was a park with a swing set only ten minutes walk away. This was when it became more intentional.
When I needed an escape, I would go to Spider Park with my Ipod. I would listen to worship music, I would come alive. Often I would find there was no one around, and I would take off my shoes before walking across the wood chips to the swings. I would think about Moses taking off his sandals in the presence of the lord. Sitting there with no one to hear, I would belt out the songs that had been singing to my heart. I would pray. I would ask the questions. Sometimes, I would even dance. This is as close as I could come in my urban world to worshipping like David did; I only wish I could be as unashamed and as in Love with God as he was. But I have recently begun to reflect how strange it was that all these times of such devoted communion occurred on a playground.
This is my theory: the playground, for me, is a place of unadulterated innocence where I can easily remember that truly I AM a child of God. All other places require me to be someway or another, without remembering with the childish innocence that still lives in my heart; that in fact I am a child of God and He longs for me to simply Be in His presence. I think that everyone probably has a place like this; a place where they feel closest to God—a place where they feel totally laid bare before Him. The challenge is to find that place and to keep going there. Maybe its simply a place in your mind, or a way of preparing your heart. But what I would like to encourage each of you this weekend and next week, is to find that place or REMEMBER that place (mentally or physically) of worship, and go there in response to God’s incredible, undying, passionate, powerful, terrifying, insane love for you. You won’t regret it.
I myself am in desperate need of some playground worship after a time where busyness has controlled my time with a death grip. But finals are over. I have some room to breathe. And I’ll be darned if I’m not going to BREATHE IN DEEP in everything that I do. And I will remember that spirit of playground worship.