The Play is the Thing

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

On these “ordinary” days of extraordinary color, magic, and mystery that the subtle winds of October bring to us, I find that like the sweet nectar of savoring that swirling and cascading leaf, or the tramp, stumble, and skip down the road-memories of childhood, the pseudo indulgence (an actually necessity) of play also draws us in. We hear it whisper, “oh, please, just one game, one dance, one indulgent giggle!” And we give in (thank goodness!)

I found myself in a small intentional community gathering the other day, asking me to “come and play” for an hour or two. The format was simple: take 8 adults, an outdoor space, and a few games (like toss the ball, say a name, next person goes, remember the order, then do it all backwards!) and suddenly, enter the doorway into fun. It doesn’t take much, just a little time and a little willingness. The results are: easier breathing, lots of laughter, and more playmates!

Today I’m hanging out with my dear friend’s two boys who love to join with me in adding a little silliness to a ping pong game (can you do a dance move in between each paddle swing? let’s see how many rhymes we can come up with for our names. . . card trick anyone?) And the free and easy, breezy attitude of play releases me into movement, unpolished cleverness, and belly laughs. The drive with my daughter and a friend or two the other day belting out at the top of our lungs a well-trodden song from the nineties did the same thing.

What would you like to play today?

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Preparing for change: saying good-bye at 18

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After my daughter’s rite of passage, when she crossed the threshold of leaving home and entering a new adventure into serving a low-income neighborhood in Chicago at age 18, I found that marking that event for myself, its joy and sorrow, helped create a salve for my heart. It embraced the moment with all of its gratitudes and difficulties.

Missing

My genetics are pasted

to your internal wall,

muscle connects muscle

across the skyline,

and I, like a fishing line,

cast my thoughts into

your inward diaries.

All I get now is

a wave of light,

a face, a whisper

from the faraway,

a stroke of hair

teased out by sunlight,

a word that tinkles

and stitches out

the seamline

of your voice,

a vast swath of sunrise

that sketches out

the color palette of

your being,

something in the

air that tells me

you

are

in

the world.

– Gina Marie Mammano

Second Rite of Passage: games and rosaries: now, it’s Ginny’s turn

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Sunday. After breakfast, it’s Ginny’s turn to present.

“Ginny, how many pieces of paper are needed for your game, ‘fax machine’?”

“There are six people, so booklets of six pages each.”

We began to play.

“Write down a random phrase, pass it to your left, read it, draw a picture about what you read, pass it on, draw a picture about what you read, etc. until we’re done.”

Let’s see, it quickly degenerates. “Climbing Mt. Whitney while eating a mooseburger” becomes “an angel climbs a volcano with an offering- a winged cheeseburger.”

Seriously . . . .

“Tell us what your other activity is, Ginny.”

“About a year ago, I made a rosary of beads to pray for my friends. I was inspired one day when I was in Saint Peregine’s chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano. As a matter of fact, this is one of the original beads I chose for my friend. The colors makes it look like flames are coming up at the bottom. She is a passionate person, so the flames describe her, but the bead is also transparent, like she is. You can see through it. She has been going through some hard times with her family, so this helps me remember to pray for her  . . . choose beads that represent a person, or a situation, or a place in your life and put it on the wire. I use the rosary for a keychain, but you can bend it anyway you like. It’s pretty flexible. A friend reminded me not to forget to choose a bead for yourself.”

And so that was our assignment.

I see a caramel colored bead I choose for our family’s current transitions. A blue, red, and white one for Ginny herself, for passion, for purity. A teardrop shaped one alongside four others- remembering a family going through a tough separation.  A rosary strung for those loved near and those loved far away.  Sunlight on the beads. Crystals and clay. Pearls and wood. Brown and gold and aquamarine blue. The weekend will soon be coming to an end. Only five lovely ladies left, plus one, newly entering the realm of the tribe, the realm of long histories, insatiable  laughter, tempered wisdom, and a healthy mix of childhood dancing with middle age and laugh lines.

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Second Rite of Passage: sizzles and twists

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That Saturday, so much juiciness was packed into that luscious recipe of a day, that we could barely hold more, but we did!

Behind the kitchen counter.  Maril held brown gift bags adorned with flames of purple and pink tissue paper flaring out. “Your mom asked me to give you the gifts of the stomach,” she said. Then out came a set of measuring cups and spoons. A cookbook with pockets.

“I’m going to teach you to make a meal that you can serve to all your friends!” And there it was: community in six courses. Rosemary lemon roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, mushroom gravy, sautéed yellow squash, and apple pie.

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For an hour or so in the kitchen. Ginny was trailing her at every turn for worthwhile instruction in the arts of steam and butter. “Squeeze two lemons over the chickens, then stuff one of them inside, and leave one in the pan. Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper over them. Put them in the oven.”

Time ticks on quickly, then resounds a ring. “Ginny, present the meal!” The feast is laid. One more beginning cook starting out on her culinary journey.

The table is set around a collection of beautiful hand-collaged plaques. Wine, anyone? Not for you, Ginny . . . yet!

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