H. L. Mencken once defined Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." In her book, "Walking a Literary Labyrinth," Nancy Malone uses this quote to remind us how so many Christians associate religion and spirituality with "asceticism, duty, hard work, suffering, earnestness of purpose, solemnity, and only occasionally with gladness, delight."
Malone emphasizes that Christians should not always shun enjoyment in favor of use, and offers this lovely quote from Romano Guardini in support: "The soul must learn to abandon, at least in prayer, the restlessness of purposeful activity; it must learn to waste time for the sake of God...It must learn not to be continually yearning to do something, to attack something, to accomplish something useful, but to play the divinely ordained game of the liturgy in liberty and beauty and holy joy before God."
I don't think of myself as Puritanical, but I definitely am not great at wasting time--I am nothing if not purposeful. But, I just happened to pull open this book tonight while I was purging my shelves, and I take it as providential. These days, I could use a little less structure and a little more play time with God. This week, I am going to be seeking "holy joy."