The playground has a castle and a drawbridge and three slides and a climbing wall. There are tire swings and baby swings and regular swings and even big red chair swings the adults can sneak onto if there aren't a lot of kids around.
When we're at the playground, my kids are wild and rambunctious and run around yelling and playing and leave every ounce of energy there. The surrounding fence keeps them IN and they swing and slide and climb and run and there's just so much to DO there.
The Meadow is a wide-open space with exposed granite and a gentle stream. It was made to be a 'backyard' for our mountainous neighborhood full of wild hills and forests of trees. There's one pond and one picnic table and six Adirondack chairs. The stream has tadpoles and the pond has rocks at the bottom from two summers ago when my littlest toddled over, crudely tossing in every pebble he could find.
An army of trees circle the Meadow – more a protective shield than a boundary line – and cast long, lean shadows over the stream and the pond and the exposed granite. In the late afternoon, the sun peeks through with a wide smile like it’s trying not to get caught in a game of hide and seek.
In the Meadow, my kids imagine they are Susan and Edmund exploring Narnia, defeating the White Witch valiantly. They chase butterflies and bring me dandelion bouquets and pretend the big oak is their secret hide out. He chases after her, desperate to be big like she is, and she holds his hand as they cross the slippery rocks so he doesn't fall and scrape his knee yet again.
In the Meadow, there isn't as much to DO – there are no swings, or slides, or castles – but there's so much to BE. In the Meadow, they are free to Be imaginative, Be together, Be relational, Be intentional.
They have fun DO-ing together at the playground, but love BE-ing together at The Meadow.
“He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.” Psalm 23:2-3
I get caught up in the doing of the playground, too. My playground is ministry and work and friends and family and home. It’s joyous and blessed and holy and necessary. It can become a playground of To-Do’s though, if I’m not careful.
I see the fence surrounding my playground, and it’s the only salvation that keeps me from crossing over into chaos. Though it tries to beckon me to stay in, seeing it is a reminder that sometimes it’s necessary to leave.
“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!” Psalm 23:1
The playground ceases to be fruitful if I haven’t first sunned myself in the Meadow. I can’t run and jump and slide and swing through all the To-Do’s if I haven’t first sunned myself in the To-Be’s.
When I escape the pandemonium and go to the Meadow, I am still and calm. My soul is restored and my mind is free to imagine once again – to dream. I'm free to take someone's hand and help them over the rough places. I’m free to Be intentional and build relationship and explore.
“Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.” (Psalm 23:4)
The trees that encircle remind me that God doesn't desire for me to be trapped IN, but rather, seeks to protect me and keep things OUT. The Meadow is green pastures and still waters and a reminder that I do not want for anything. It’s the place I find courage in the face of evil and the place where my cup is filled to overflowing.
“You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!” Psalm 23:5
The Meadow is my refuge – my place to BE. Sometimes I forget that I can't DO the necessary work of playground until I've first taken time to BE near the still waters of the Meadow. I can't leave every ounce of energy on the swings if I haven't first been fueled by sunning myself on the Rock.
I forget this often. But in unsolicited grace and love, He nudges me as I watch my children. He whispers Truth to me yet again and I lean back to face the Son and relax into His arms and remember,
“Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” Psalm 23:6
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Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Find BE on Facebook and Twitter, and listen on iTunes.
Photo ©Monica Steely