Monsieur Hulot serves in the game of life...
What shall I do to-day? What will to-day do with me? What will I do to to-day? What will we do to each other?
Hello, play-friend day, here we are so wonderfully arranged, each on our own side of the tennis net of life, neither of us concerned to win but only to be the best companion in the game.
...Play is play and one thing leads to another, but there are times when I wish that your fever of dominant self-wilfulness would subside, with all its contrary forms of unplayful activity, for these confuse you and you don't realise that life is meant to be an opportunity for you to live out your best joys with as much definition as possible...
From A Cup of Day by William Arkle
Arkle wrote the above shortly before his death at the age of seventy six. It seems to be about that feeling which we often get at the beginning of each day. Of course, the day may be filled with work and chores, and we may feel we have no scope for exerting any control upon it. Or - even at weekends, day's off, or during holidays - we may have pre-filled our day with a busy-list of fun activities; so that there is neither time nor energy to ask 'What shall I do today?'...
Nonetheless, it is a real question. And - contrary to appearances - each day is unique, and brings us unprecedented experiences - our personal interaction with the world is never repeated nor is it repeatable (even when we try to make it repeat).
And - since God, as well as our personal agency, is ultimately responsible for each day - we may assume that each day is an interaction, a 'tennis match' between us and God.
Perhaps the 'game' of the day begins with God serving-up some stimulus - some event, stress, good news - for us to respond to; so we return it across the net as best we can. Perhaps we make the serve, and begin with some act or thought or intervention in the world; and God smashes or lobs it back to us...
The metaphor breaks-down if we regard tennis as merely a means to the end of determining a winner; because the game of life is not a competition but a training. It is a learning experience; and because no two bouts are identical, there is always something to learn.
This means that - in an ultimate sense - we can relax and enjoy the day's game, however it turns-out. The only total failure would be a failure to learn from the day's play.
And this insight leaves us free to play the game of life joyfully.
I think God and I have been playing dodgeball more often than tennis lately.
In all seriousness, I like this post and the message it contains via Arkle's tennis metaphor. It comes at just the right time for me, personally. With the school year complete, I now officially have the summer off. As good as that sounds, I often struggle to know what to do with all the "free" time I am granted each year, especially at the start of July when I literally start each day asking, "What shall I do today?"
On the one hand, I want to do everything all at once. On the other hand, I also feel the urge to do nothing (hey, I deserve a rest, don't I)? After a week or so, I tend to get into a day-to-day rhythm in the summer, which is a fantastic state to be in, and makes going back to work in September all that much harder - though over the years I have learned to carry over that summer "What shall I do" approach into the remainder of the year.
This is a bit off topic from this blog post, but I have been watching Paul VanderKlay's discussions recently. He's an interesting Calvinist who has been bridging many thought leaders similar to you. He takes on Owen Barfield in his latest installment.
@Francis - Now we just have to live up to Arkle's advice!
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