Yesterday I got to experience something for the first time in 2019—playing catch with my oldest son! The type A personality that I have, I normally would schedule playtime or have certain parameters on the activity. This time felt different. Natural. Organic. Unplanned. Time ceased to exist.
Have you had such a serendipitous experience? Pregnant with possibilities, that playful experience with my son gave birth to so something I could not have created on my own—joy! C.S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.”
Because joy does not originate from within us, we often hear joy referred to as an experience, a visit, or encounter. Along with the initial joy experienced playing catch with my kid I want to share three additional joys originating from the first: togetherness, collaboration, and simplicity.
The old adage “the apple does not fall few from the tree” applies 100% to my son and I. Every single person who has seen childhood pictures of me and see my son always say “Wow, Noah looks exactly like you!” Our similarities don’t end with the physically. My son acquired my strengths and weaknesses. Parenting him cause me to realize my own failings. I seek control of most situations. I like to be prepared. Such control stymies the possibility for the unexpected.
Playing catch provided an opportunity to simply spend time together. Togetherness without control. Togetherness not forced. Togetherness that also extended to myself and my other kids as well—watching they go up and down the sidewalk on their bikes!
A second joy flowing from the simple activity of catch was collaboration. Collaboration has been a buzzword in the professional sphere, but it should be every part of domestic life too. According to St. John Paul II, “To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.”
The joy found in playing catch reminded me of the joy in teamwork. Working together my son and I sought to catch the ball. Little words were exchanged, yet collaboration came forth organically. I experienced the joy of my son helping his siblings in need as well.
Chinese philosopher Confucius reasoned, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Through my pride I think I need to make the simplest things in life better with ‘complex innovations’.
The third joy I encountered through the joy of playtime with my son was simplicity. Simplicity is a joy because I realized life does not have to be perfect to be special. Simplifying play with only a ball and mitts led to an incredible spring morning. A morning that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Seek out the simple things in life. Be open to interruptions in your pre-planned day. If you allow the unexpected to occur God with grace you with immeasurable joys. Thank you Lord for the joy of togetherness, collaboration, and the simplicity of playing catch with my boy!