The immediate hurdle to any discussion may very well be the absence of presence. When I am not present; when I’m tuned out, daydreaming of being somewhere other than engaged in conversation, I miss out on what is available to be created or completed. Think of a time when you have been conversing with someone and they heard what you said but they were not over there with you, in your world. Then perhaps a little dialogue starts murmuring in your head, “I’m pretty sure this person isn’t listening to me.” (Tap, tap, tap.) “Is this thing on?”
For me, the joy of communication is exchange. I even delight in a bit of banter now and then. There is something stimulating about a little repartee response thrown into the mix of an otherwise business-as-usual visit. When we conform to drab gab, expression hops on the expressway to Commonplace—Population: That one guy, but he moved. Yet, I suppose it can’t be all fun and games all the time. Just as adrenaline would lose its appeal if nonstop, stirring wit and thought-provocation are best indulged when they rouse a dormant attention.
This leads me to my prayer. I know God is the Originator of wordplay. Great sense of humor. Underestimated. And I love it when God’s reciprocity is exhibited in such a way. So, amid all of the reverent supplication within which I tend to address my Lord, today I’m gonna Robert Frost this reflection.
And I pray, “Dear God, engagement in playfulness with You can be very healing. Pease remind me of Your whimsy. Amen.”
Following my prayer, I opened today’s book of choice, ‘A First Look at Communication Theory’ by Em Griffin, to page 174. Here’s God’s refreshing reframe:
“To reframe…means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the “facts” of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changes its entire meaning.”
DOG: “I don’t want you to go for a walk because I want you to go for a walk. I want you to go for a walk because you want to go for a walk.”
—THE NEW YORKER
As I was typing this passage, thinking, “OK, God. Kinda heady for comedy,” I looked up at my television and noticed that there was an episode of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show playing. Speaking of engagement in playfulness! So, I turned it up and pressed the record button on my phone…
WIFE: “What’s this packing? Where are you going?”
HUSBAND: “Where am I going? Everything happens to me. I must be a real schmo for letting a guy like George Burns talk me into going with him to Palm Springs for three days.”
WIFE: “You’re going away for three days? What about me?”
HUSBAND: “What do you mean? I’m doing it on account of you.”
WIFE: “On account of me?”
HUSBAND: “You and Gracie are the best of friends, right? Well now, if I let George down, now listen. Well, it might break up your beautiful friendship!”
WIFE: “Yeah…and it will be so hot there that you probably won’t be able to stand it. You’ll probably have to lie around in the pool all day in your bathing suit.”
HUSBAND: “Isn’t it awful. I know. That George Burns, taking advantage of my good nature.”
WIFE: “Now look, you’re going to Palm Springs to get as brown as a berry and you expect me to believe…”
HUSBAND: “I know I’m going to come back looking great, but… who am I gonna be looking great for?!”
WIFE: “Oh, I didn’t realize! You’re doing it for me!”
HUSBAND: “Certainly glad it’s finally beginning to sink in.”
WIFE: “Well, you go and pack. And you’re doing so many nice things for me, that I’m gonna think of something nice to do for you. …So where does he keep those car keys? I’ll do something nice for him. Hahahahaha!”
Dear God, Thanks for letting me do something nice for You! Wink wink!