Scripture ~ Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin.” Matthew 17: 26-27a The Message
Spiritual Focus ~ “I like that story, but I like it better when my grandpa pulls a quarter out of my ear!” Quote from a divinely inspired child
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale – free to be, Exhale – playful
Devotion ~ If we believe that prayer is connecting with God, we start to see that prayerful connections are found in an abundance of human and divine activities around us. Look at children. When we are young, play is our natural form of prayer. We feel connected to the world around us and, at the same time, are not worried about anything but being in the moment. As we grow older, play—like prayer—often becomes more formal, organized, usually more structured, and less free-form.
However, if we are open to the possibility of divine participation in the moment, we can find ourselves connected to God whether playing tennis or building sandcastles. Divine inspiration or connection in play appears in many forms, and when we recognize these connections, we delight in them, laughing joyfully, maybe even ending with a deep sigh.
In Western yoga we are focused on poses even as we begin to embrace the many other benefits of yoga and ways of finding breath to access meditation and prayer. It is important to note that many yoga asanas were discovered through play. The Sanskrit term, leela, loosely translated as “divine play,” is encouraged in many hatha yoga classes as a way to explore connection with your body and breath. Children make up yoga poses all the time and are the easiest ones to teach Leela. Toppling tree pose or Lion’s breath are just two playful poses that are spontaneous and light-hearted. Because this form of yoga is playful, it often brings laughter and a deep, abiding breath, resulting in an organic connection to God in prayer. One possible benefit of a leela practice is the breath prayer that follows, a prayerful, joy-filled connection with God.