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Play and Pray: Nature’s Insanely Beautiful Way of Expressing Gratitude

Words are only one way to say thank you. Each being naturally gives back energy, love, and appreciation for life. Play, the unconditional big bodied YES to dancing with the elements, is creation’s best thanks ever.

All species appear to have some kind of play capacity. Snails?

Some species can’t really help themselves.

I know that when I play in a sacred way which is simply to honor spirit in all things, I am truly at my best. I feel connected, joyful, and in right relation.  Penny Hackett-Evans expresses this beautifully in her poem Thanksgiving by the Sea


I have been watching the dolphins

and I would like to learn from

the way they thank the ocean

with their playfulness.  Or maybe from

the seagulls that thank the air

by whirling in circles.  Maybe I could

learn to give thanks like surfers

that fall into each wave laughing.

Or maybe I could praise the darkness

like the sliver of a moon slips itself

into the night sky —  a brilliant

thank-you note without words. 

Or the way the ocean reflects

back the glorious sun at dawn

and the way the waves sing

the Hallelujah Chorus constantly.

The world teaches us over and over

how to be thankful.

Praise with your joy – it is enough.

Visit Penny at The Sacred Path.


To return to Earth-wise life,  it is important now, more than ever, to honor the way each body longs to offer effortless, creative, natural gratitude across genders and cultures. These ways are sustainable, build up creation, and oxygenate the Source of All. Look at the beautiful, time-intensive ways indigenous people dance, sing, drum, craft, and delight in one another. All of this is in the spirit of offering. 

To keep my play and pray life going I put play on my daily menu. Did I play today? The Online Dance Chapel assures me that I am not doing this only in private, but in the whole bodied grace of community. The chapel is free. Just let me know in the comments if you want to attend on any Thursday at 9:30 pst or Monday at 5 pm pst. Link here to learn more.

To be a playful prayer of thanks do

  1. Stay curious about your playfulness. You are the Earth giving thanks. Play is anything you do for joy in interactive communion.
  2. As families and leaders affirm the play in one another. This will be our new full-time job. We will be scouting about for feathers and rocks, trees to sit under, rhythm sticks, and circles where we can hoot, holler, and dance.
  3. Research why many of us lost play as our birthright. Read Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich, a brief and powerful review of a book I would have written if I had been a sociological commentator. She declares, “the exhilaration of the group moving and singing as one produced an experience of collective joy that was both pleasurable and therapeutic and different in kind from verbal communication. The ecstatic emotion engendered was perceived by its participants as a direct experience of god, unmediated by priests or interpreters. The revellers’ gods – Dionysos, Krishna and Pau – especially attracted women and working people to them; their joyful rituals were essentially demotic, and inevitably drew down on themselves the disapproval of the clerical and civic establishment….Priests and monarchs have ever been the foes of genuine popular celebrations. Ehrenreich chronicles the early church’s systematic attempts to remove the Dionysian elements from their services – dancing, singing, speaking in tongues, the tossing of freely flowing hair. Free expression was discouraged; pews were installed to compel worshippers to control themselves, and their possessed brethren were duly evicted on to the streets….
  4. And most importantly let each time you are doodling, crafting, moving, engaging with love, or singing be a prayer to the Source of Life. 

How are you playing and praying these days? I’d love to know.



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