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In my perception, the word play is like a lighthouse flashing critical illumination along hazardous rocky shorelines. Without play, darkness envelops the psyche, and encrusts inner faculties with viper-like stings, frequently self-imposed. With play’s bag of surprises, however, creativity surges; glee mounts as more of the beautiful reveals herself, in nature, art works, design, even a forgiven child with a skinned knee.   

A deeper look at play seems to suggest something of the Sacred, at work. The Old New Testament uses the verb, play, seventy-three times: with musical instruments, with harlotry, with performing, and with children. Each expression of play draws upon the individual’s imagination and uplifts listeners or warns them to wake up and observe the Law of Moses. 

A fifth use of this verb differs from the others. From the book of Proverbs (8:29-31) comes,

                    …when he laid the foundations of the earth

I was by his side, a master craftsman,

delighting him day after day,

ever at play in his presence,

at play everywhere in his world

delighting to be with the sons of man.

Within the essence of God, there seems to be a player who enjoys being with us, who takes delight with our efforts to play/ or co-create with him.

I would have loved to have known the sage who received this insight and gave it expression, centuries ago.

Elizabeth Lighthouse – Portland, Maine

On Valentine’s evening, yet, another surprise awaited me on my front porch: neighbors had left a card with a lavender box of Godiva Chocolate Domes—double dark chocolate, at that. It prompted my researching Lady Godiva to separate out fact and legend and to learn why these Brussels chocolatiers named their company after her in 1926. The facts are sparse; the legend, long.

Lady Godiva (1010-1067), a gentlewoman from Anglo-Saxon origins, lived with her husband Leofric III, Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry, on their estates with their nine children and numerous servants. The couple, known for their piety and generosity, established and endowed churches and Benedictine monasteries in Coventry, Stow St. Mary, and at five other locations. Jewelers and goldsmiths adorned statues in these places of worship.

The legend of Lady Godiva’s nude horseback ride through Coventry first appeared in the thirteenth century, an adaptation by Roger of Wendover, but later discredited by historians. From then on, wandering storytellers enlarged this scandal until settled into its present form, the poem Godiva, by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson composed in 1842.

What intrigues me is how the nugget of this legend began—perhaps some disgruntled land owner—and took on momentum. Fast-forward to 1926, it caught the imagination of Pierre Draps and he named his business after Lady Godiva’s virtues: boldness, standing up for what is right, and her engaging spirit, qualities to be manifested in his business throughout the world.

Whoever Lady Godiva was, her name reflects the latinized form of the Old English God’s gift, she was someone to be reckoned with. Many still relish Godiva chocolates today. I certainly do, thanks to my neighbors.

From the eighteenth-century has emerged new friends, John and Abigail Adams, originally from a working farm at Braintree, Massachusetts. As husband and wife, their humanness enlivened my imagination: I was with them during their long relationship with its chilling hardships and lengthy separations.

Prior to this memorable experience, found in the pages of John Adams (2001), by the master writer, David McCullough, I only knew John and Abigail from history’s dust-covered pages about our country’s beginnings.

In McCullough’s perception, too few knew of Abigail’s emotional and spiritual and political support of John, of his intellectual brilliance and astute reading of character, his ease speaking in the political arena, his passion for truth, his sense of humor, his diplomatic work in Paris and the Hague that led to American independence—all these had been insufficiently addressed by Adams’s authors. So McCullough set to work. Years would pass.

Ruminating over John’s and Abigail’s letters, diaries, and journals, visiting all the places they had lived in America and Europe, and steeping his imagination with sensory impressions, McCullough allowed the story to take its present form in his unconscious, while ever critiquing what he wrote and checking his facts.

Readers of John Adams by David McCullough can’t help being touched by the immediacy of this piece of eighteenth-century history. As one of the Founding Fathers, McCullough honors Adams’s passion for American Independence, the form of government of the new country, and his role as one of the Founding Fathers.

Available on Amazon

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