I saw some kids in our neighborhood the other day playing hide-and-seek. It’s great to see families outside in these first days of October. Temperatures topped out at 80°F, with a nice breeze. I looked out my second-floor study window and saw these kids suddenly burst out the front door of the house across the street, 5 or 6 of them, all between 7 and 10 years of age, I’d guess. They scattered in different directions and hid quickly. One girl crawled under the neighbor’s bushes in the front yard, and sat down . . . her jean-clad legs awkwardly sticking out like the wicked old witch under Dorothy’s house! Another crouched behind the car in the driveway. One of the boys actually climbed inside a green grass cart at the side of the house! He was last to be found.
I remember playing hide-and-seek as a kid. It was one of the easiest games to play in a moment’s notice. And finding the perfect hiding spot was paramount — to a point. Because, honestly, hiding is only so fun until people stop looking for you. We had a cousin, maybe 6 years old at the time, who would come over to our house and hide in the washing machine! A front loader. He’d pull in some dirty laundry around him and close the door. We never gave it a second glance! After a while, we’d all find each other and call out, “Okay, Walter, we give up. You win.” But he wouldn’t show himself. And after two or three tries to coax him out of his hiding, we’d give up and start playing another game. Finally, someone would hear him shouting from inside the washing machine and he came out angry, “Why’d you give up? It’s hide and seek, not hide and quit!” And then we’d get into our usual arguments of who made the rules and who never cares about who and that the object is still to be found, and never mind, cause who needs him anyway! Never mattered, because no matter how many times we got into these squabbles, he would still hide better than anyone and would never get found. Years later, after we’d sold that house, I kept imagining he was still in there somewhere!
My favorite game to play when I was a youth director was Sardines — where one person hides and everybody scatters to look for her. And as they find her, one by one, they crowd into the space, staying silent, until everyone is packed in like a can of sardines. Ultimately, somebody giggles and the laughter overwhelms the group and everybody gets found.
This Sunday, I’m beginning a new series on “why we meet.” All the different ways we play hide and seek, and all the ways gather together to be found. Or is it the other way around? We gather to find one another. If we’re honest, maybe we gather to find God in the midst of all our game playing. Well, call it God or connection with deep joy or deep purpose or meaning or the feeling of being loved. It is the grace within which we all live and have our being but sometimes have to be reminded we’re all found there, too.
I am reading an interesting book that argues any meeting or gathering needs to have something disputable about it, something that suggests your being there isn’t just for a routine, but could literally change you or how you see your world. Certainly engaging and comforting. But more importantly, maybe a little dangerous, too.
At the very least, you experience something unexpected. You’ll be found to be sure. But if you’re really present, you’ll find something, too.
Why do we meet? What are we doing here? How do you gather with friends, family, strangers?
The author Robert Fulghum says there was an old way of describing God in the Middle Ages as Deus Absconditus — God who is hidden. But God is found, less like hide and seek and more like Sardines — by the sound of everyone heaped together.
It’s a new series, World Communion Day and the band will be playing music from Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michelson, and the Fray.
I hope to find you there!
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven