Linda and I watched our kid’s kids over this past Labor Day weekend – three fun-filled, chaos-driven, laughter-drenched days, and long nights, with three granddaughters between the ages of 4 and 10. Of all the games we played, Hide and Seek was hands down the favorite, notwithstanding the Crayola and coloring book-cluttered floors, American Girl dolls in various stages of dress in various rooms of the house, and dirty clothes tossed here and there.
Side Bar: typical end-of-weekend conversation with the girls:
“Where’s Maeve’s other Minion sock?”
“Not that one. Wait, we were looking for that sock last week!”
“Who’s underwear is this?”
All three girls, “Not mine!”
Anyway, no tools or toys or parts required to build or scatter about the house – all that’s needed for Hide and Seek is the urge to hide and seek. As you can imagine, some master the concept better than others. When told to go hide, four-year-old Maeve stood very still in the middle of the room, counted to 5, shut her eyes tight, and then shouted, “I’m invisible!” Every.Time.
I remember playing Hide-and-Seek as a kid. Finding the perfect hiding spot was paramount, a bragging right to be envied — to a point. Because, honestly, hiding is only so much fun until people stop looking for you. We had a cousin, Walter, 7 years old at the time, who hid in the washing machine! A front loader. He pulled in some dirty laundry around him and closed the door.
We never gave it a second thought! Passed it by multiple times. I’d think, “Who’d hide in a pile of dirty laundry in a washing machine? It’s dangerous.” There was every chance in the world my older brother’s two-week-old dirty underwear was in there! And we’d heard stories about fluffed up dogs beyond recognition and cats that looked like furry wet rags!
Eventually we’d found everyone but Walter. So we called out, “Okay, Walter, we give up. You win. Come out, come out, wherever you are.” But he wouldn’t show himself. Not a peep. And after two or three tries, we just gave up and started watching TV.
Finally, we heard him shouting from inside the laundry room, “Hey! Someone pleeaase come find me!”
And then we got into our usual arguments about the point of the game, and who made the rules, with Walter arguing that the objective was to keep looking until everyone is found, and never mind, ‘cause who needs him anyway! But no matter how many times we got into these squabbles, it was still one of our favorite games; and Walter always managed to find hiding places no one would think to look.
Years later, after we moved away, I’d occasionally panic at the thought that Walter might still be somewhere in that house!
My favorite game to play when I was a youth director at FUMCFW (years ago) was Sardines — one person hides and everybody scatters to look for her on their own. As they find her, one by one, they crowd into the same space, staying silent, until everyone is packed in like a can of sardines for the last person to find! Eventually, somebody giggles and the laughter overwhelms the group and everybody gets found.
I’ve always liked that idea – everybody gets found by the sound of their shared delight.
We have all these images, sayings, and stories of Jesus, of the apostle Paul, in the New Testament- all pointing to the same fundamental need and longing – everyone wants to be found: to be loved and included, to belong, to have a place in this big puzzle of life. Loved by God. Loved by life itself. But when love isn’t present, when people don’t feel connected, people get defensive, angry, exclusivist, even violent.
The late Celtic Christian poet, John O’Donahue wrote, “Our life’s journey is the task of refining our belonging so that we can become more true, loving, and free.”
Our sense of belonging, or lack thereof, may be at the heart of all the existential angst and aggressiveness, as well as any kindness and generosity of spirit, we see in our world to this day.
Albert Einstein put the question this way. “I think the most important question facing humanity is ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the question all people must answer for themselves. For if the universe is perceived as unfriendly, then we will use our technology and the earth’s resources to create bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy what feels unfriendly. But if we decide our universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology and resources to create tools and models for creating bridges of understanding.”
It’s a significant question to ponder from time to time. Do you feel deep in your heart that the universe, our world and reality, is fundamentally trustworthy or untrustworthy? Friendly or unfriendly? That you belong here? That everyone does?
Does seeing and relating to life and all its mystery through the lens of seeing everything as sacred (God as the very “ground of all being”) refine for you what it means to belong? To find one another, and be found? To see through fear and mistrust to the deeper question of belonging and trust, even with our opponents?
As we once again pass through another anniversary of one of the most tragic, aggressive moments in our national history, one that has come to define our nation in so many ways over the past 21 years, what can we learn from this spiritual question that lies at the heart of humanity?
This Sunday, in eleven:eleven, downtown, we continue the series “Here’s How: Big Mind Help for Small-minded Times” as we look at some of the ways we open up to this universal longing to trust and belong, even in the hardest of times.
See you soon!
eleven:eleven, downtown • @ the Historic 512
Sept 11 @ 11:11 a.m. | Livestream | Facebook
Here’s How: Big Mind Help for small-minded Times, Pt II
“not this or that, it’s everything, everywhere”
rev. tom mcdermott
with Brad Thompson, Kagan Parker, Alaina Gunter and the band and the music of Nickel Creek, Mindy Smith, and Drew Holcomb