Wednesday, October 24, 2012
A Moment of Whimsy
By Micky Wolf
I am blessed to have a comfortable second-floor study with an equally comfortable chair and desk next to a window. Sun, rain, snow or clouds, I enjoy nature and the unfolding seasons, along with hard-to-miss moments of observing the various sizes and shapes of humanity who stroll, jog, or drive by on a regular basis in our quiet, residential neighborhood. The view is often a source of encouragement and inspiration—or the occasional distraction from staying focused on finishing a work in progress.
And then there was the encounter a couple of days ago.
A middle-aged woman dressed in sweats and walking briskly appeared to the right. Smiling ear-to-ear, it seemed each step was a delight. Nothing odd. But wait a minute—her left hand lightly grasps several huge reddish-orange leaves on long stems. Now I’m smiling. Treasures no doubt, maybe for a fresh, fall basket to put on her kitchen table.
And then another figure appeared, from the opposite direction, the same side of the street. A slight-built man of similar age, slowly jogging along. Also wearing a smile. He stopped. She stopped. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders, kissing her lightly on the lips. She smiled. He smiled again. Then off they went, she to her walking, he to his jogging. And me—a smile in my heart for the remainder of the day.
Fun. Freedom. Spontaneity. Each of these describes important keys to living a life of joy and peace. Who knows what this couple may be experiencing apart from their personal choice for exercise and fresh air? Nevertheless, the innocence and tenderness of their shared moment was most surely a gift to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity.
As Christians desiring to more fully love, follow and serve the Lord, we can become quite serious at times. Really, really serious. Somber even. These attitudes and demeanors most certainly have their place. Yet, maybe we would all be healthier—physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually—if we gave in to more moments of whimsy, otherwise known as having a sudden change of behavior that is especially playful.
So for a whimsical lesson—on how to be, well, seriously playful.
Fun is a good thing. Not only for children but maybe even more importantly—for those of us who consider ourselves adults. However, in order for something to be really fun, less is often more. Less detailed planning. Less planning period. It is important to note our ‘couple on the street’ were smiling before, during and after they encountered one another. Are walking and jogging, especially as part of an exercise routine, that much fun? Probably not. Maybe it was the leaves she was carrying in her hand. Maybe it was their unspoken, instant decision to pause when they saw one another. For whatever reason, their moment of whimsy happened. And it was fun.
The wherewithal to have fun has some specific associations with being free. Seriously. When you or I allow ourselves to be more concerned with how we look, sound, or generally express the uniqueness of who we are in any given moment, we forego a multitude of opportunities to be the person God has created us to be. To be authentically free does not mean I do whatever I want, damn the torpedoes. What it does mean is I have been imbued by God with the gift of free will, which, hopefully, will lead to making choices and acting in ways which value others as well as self.
The person who is being authentically free is the one who intimately understands the aspect of personal responsibility—including the consequences—of making choices and taking action, including expressing one’s feelings and emotions in a loving way, privately, as well as in a more public setting.
People who can have fun in moments of pure, unadulterated whimsy are usually those who feel free in their own skin—physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. If you sense you are not as authentically free as you would like to be, talk to God about it. While you walk. Or jog. Or sit in your favorite chair by a window. He is more than willing and able to help you discover what might be restricting or restraining you from more fully expressing what you are thinking and feeling.
Having fun definitely hinges on being free ‘to be’. Being spontaneous is the frosting on the whimsy cake. Without spontaneity, we often get trapped in the stinking over-thinking pit of routine as well as adhering to a life of formulas and endless ritual. As with Christ-centered freedom, being authentically spontaneous does not mean behaving recklessly or without loving consideration of others or self. What it does mean is being able to quickly recognize that a potential choice and resulting action arising from a momentary natural impulse—whimsy—can be one which emerges and flows from a Christ-centered heart.
When we allow self to be spontaneous, without fear of what others will think or say about us, we throw open the door to the endless delights and blessings awaiting us in all of God’s creation. Imagine, for a moment, if every time Jesus was about to laugh, or cry, or raise his voice, he had stopped in his tracks, refusing to respond to the momentary natural impulses stirring within his being? To do so would have been to categorically deny the fullness of his humanity given him by his [and our] Heavenly Father.
Maybe it’s long overdue? A walk? A jog? A handful of colorful leaves? A smile? A kiss on the lips? Go for it. And trust that God is in the midst of it all as He delights over you from the halls of Heaven. [Zephaniah 3:17]
Is having fun something I feel I need to schedule?
How free am I in expressing what I am feeling?
As an adult—or as a Christian—how do I feel about being spontaneous?
Am I open to experiencing moments of whimsy? If not, what holds me back?