Friday, January 04, 2013

Freedom to wander, play just as important as rest

From today's Briefing (with photos from the day here):

Sunday is anything but a day of rest.
A typical example: We leave the house by 8 a.m., sometimes a little earlier if my Sunday school class has requested doughnuts.
We attend worship service from 8:30 until 9:30. The kids go to their Sunday school classes, and I head for the youth room, where I help lead discussion with middle-school students.
From 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m., we have time for lunch, but not enough time to drive all the way home, so we eat out.
We return to church in time for Cooper’s piano lesson.
We finally get home, but we don’t linger for long.
I drive Katie to a nearby home for Destination Imagination practice. Not long after, I drop Cooper off at another church, this time for a Boy Scouts meeting. If I have a list and am especially focused, I can grocery shop, unload food at home and return to Katie’s practice by 3:30.
We have exactly one hour before Cooper’s meeting is done, and then we’re home for good — barring an indoor soccer game or cotillion meeting — by 4:45 p.m., which affords time for homework finishing, dinner preparing, eating, bedtime reading and, finally, sleeping.
It’s a crazy day, yes, and it would seem prudent to trim an activity or two. But at this point I’ve written off the whole day. I know what to expect, and I know how to order the rest of our week (as much as is in my control) to accommodate the schedule.
One of the greatest gifts of the holiday season is a break from routine. Meetings and practices are mercifully put on hold. When presented with a Sunday afternoon completely free of obligation, our family had two choices: go home and rest or get out and explore.
We all voted for adventure.
We ate lunch in Oak Cliff and admired glitzy Christmas decorations downtown. Then we sought refuge from the city at one of our all-time favorite museums, the Nasher Sculpture Center.
We wandered the garden, spending time with My Curves Are Not MadBronze Crowd and Night. We sat. We listened to water. Some of us even danced a little.
After spending time with the old, we set out for something new. We walked a couple of blocks north to experience Klyde Warren Park for the first time. We played pingpong (and discovered that it’s much easier as an indoor, wind-free game). Katie hugged a few trees — specifically the ones outfitted with trunk sweaters and hand-knit snails and birds.
Cooper and Katie played a mostly friendly game of chess (he won, but just barely) while I read the newspaper.
They refused to let their church clothes get in the way of climbing, running, spinning and jumping on the playground. (I did forewarn, “Do not go near the spray park.”)
As we meandered across the park, I marveled at our leisurely pace, our wide-open schedule that demanded absolutely nothing.
I made a silent promise to ditch obligations — sooner not later — so that we could wander again without a constant eye on the clock. That freedom from rigid expectation can be just as precious as rest.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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