They Shall Go Out with Joy

I do not find sports all that engaging. The allurement of competitive and extreme sports may as well knock on a bolted door when it asks me to get involved. I often marvel at the allurement of competitive sports. I sometimes shake my head and ask, “What is the point of bouncing, kicking, hitting, and throwing a ball?” Probably that is the wrong question. Rather, I should ask, “Why don’t I get involved with the bouncing, kicking, hitting and throwing a ball?” I wonder what I have lost as a person by opting out of competitive games and sports. Perhaps the loss is greater than I realize.

My lack of involvement in sports and games began as a youngster. I recall the happy voices on warm summer nights when most of my cousins were outside playing games such as King’s Base, Three Times around the House, or Kick the Can. In the background, I heard their shouts of laughter as I curled up on a chair reading a book. More than once they would beg a reluctant me from the chair to join in their fun.

Now I am a teacher and being on recess duty is a part of my job description. This is not tallied as a favorite part of my teaching job. I have teasingly told my students that I could do without recess, and they look at me like I am from another planet. Who wouldn’t want recess they wonder? Recess is all about games and sports and fun.

In my thirty years of teaching school, I have done a variety of things during recess.  I have bandaged many knees and elbows, comforted crying children, refereed for the escalating arguments, kept teams’ scores, and blown the whistle.  In my early teaching career I sometimes even played with them.  These things are not the reason I dislike recess. Perhaps one reason for disliking recess is fear-based. I find in the deep recesses of my heart a silent resistance to public involvement that has risks. It is risky to mess up for your team; they might get mad. It is risky to run; you might fall.  It is risky to play toward a goal; you might lose. It is risky to catch a ball; you might drop it.

Every day, for the last thirty years, these risks were played out in front of me as a recess teacher.  I have pondered more recently why children love recess at the expense of such risks. Just maybe God has kept me in this career until I learn how to play. (I have been slow in learning if it has taken me thirty years.)  Some observations I have made about children who risk recess:

  •  Happy laughter rides on the wings of their feet.
  •  Pure, exultant joy exudes from these little bodies darting back and forth from line to line.
  • Voices mingle with uninhibited yelling and shouting.
  • Hands link and assist each other for safe crossings.
  • Infectious smiles create a sunny place on a rainy day.
  • The tagger is empowered to control his domain.
  • The one being chased falls in a breathless, laughing heap as he scoots across the safety line.
  • Accidents happen– some gulp away tears, and others keep running.
  • Looks of disappointments cross faces when the jarring bell signals the end of recess.

Perhaps taken out of context,but so much in context of children at play is the line from Isaiah 55:12 “ For ye shall go out with joy. I believe when my students go out for recess their loud laughter, happy shouts, and energetic running pleasures the heart of God.  When we play, perhaps all nature rejoices.

“For ye shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace:

 the mountain and the hills shall break forth before you into singing,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

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4 thoughts on “They Shall Go Out with Joy

  1. Love it, Sharon! To be honest, I relish my 10 or 15 minutes of silence in my classroom when my co-teacher is on recess duty and I have a bit of time to sit or quickly pull a few things together for my next class. That’s not all bad…but I love this perspective! Thanks!

  2. I love this, Sharon! I hope I remember it as I go out to do recess duty. Going out with joy . . . in freedom, in happiness. Thank-you.

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