As I write this, I am at the beach on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My darling children are having a ball with their grandparents about a hundred miles from me. I have been thinking about two words for the last two hours. “Rest” and “Recreation.” Rest is a word throughout the Bible of course. God rested on the seventh day. The ark rested on Mount Ararat. Jesus promises to give rest to the those who are weary and heavy laden. Recreation on the other hand is a word I see plastered all over the tourist bureau here on the coast. Just for funzies I looked up the origin of the word “recreation.” The interesting thing is that the original meaning had to do with mental or spiritual renewal.
late Middle English (also in the sense ‘mental or spiritual consolation’): via Old French from Latin recreatio(n- ), from recreare ‘create again, renew’.
When we engage in recreation, we are in a sense renewing or recreating ourselves. Or if you are a Christian, letting God recreate you. In some sense, all spiritual l formation is recreation. Of course the way its used around this beach town is synonymous with “play” or leisure. Fair enough. There is something re-creative about play. Old Screwtape distrusts fun almost as much as he distrusts joy.
Fun is closely related to Joy – a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.
Pure play for its own sake, reading a novel for fun. Playing a game with your spouse as I am want to do. splashing in the ocean. In what sense do these things re-create us? The promote charity, courage, contentment and other virtues. The keep us from being hedged in by the world. They keep us from being squeezed in the world’s mold of hate, fear, and restlessness.
In Genesis there is a delight in the first creation. You hear it in the “Good” that accompanies every act of creation, and especially in the “very good” when God created human beings. Delight can even be found in God’s command to Adam and Eve that they may eat from any tree in the garden that God made for them but the one tree. Unlike the birds and beasts and fish, humans are given a place to exercise their freedom–to play, and laugh, and sleep, and draw closer together.
Wisdom personified in Proverbs 8:30-31 describes this delight:
I was beside him, like a master workman
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the sons of men.
Rejoicing in his the created world and delighting in the beings he created. This is what true recreation is, I think, as a great gangly and awkward pelican suddenly dives like a bullet toward the water and transforms into a great and majestic hunter. I hope I can be wise and remember this as I sit and listen to timeless tide lap against the shore as it has done since the earth began. Recreation is re-creation. It is re-created the delight on the first morning of God’s rule. I hope this week you to have a chance to re-create with your loved ones and some little piece of God’s creation.Ω
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