SoulCollage® Community Update
June 2018
Holy Play
 By Deb Carriger Richards

Women and Play

Recently, I asked a group of women to respond to this question: "What do you do to play?" Few could readily answer. Kim buys seven-dollar bath bombs and treats herself to a home spa experience. Suzanne leaves her husband and boys on Sunday evenings to retreat to the basement and watch Victoria on PBS. Cindy visits the costume jewelry counter in a local department store and buys all the sparkly bangle bracelets she can afford at a deeply discounted price. She's also recently discovered lace!

Liberation Committee Suit) by Deb Richards
I Am One Who is free. I am one who has pushed past my fears.
I am one who no longer listens to the critic.

I took the question further and said, "Tell us the one thing you really want to do, that, if you were to do it, everyone would say, 'Now she's really lost it!'"

Jana said she would write a book for kids. Anne would travel to Hoboken, New Jersey to visit Carlo's Bakery and see The Cake Bosses. Kay wants to quit her job, move to California and take a different kind of job (not nursing), make lots of money, then come home and retire on a hobby farm. Anna wants to win a swimming competition. I could envision their SoulCollage® cards: I am your inner writer. I am your inner baker. I am your inner farmer, your inner swimmer. . .

Sadly, nearly every one began her response with, "This is just a pipe dream." Or, "This is silly, I know." What this tells us is that we, as adults, women as well as men, still have dreams and daydreams we hope to live out. We still have wishes, inner inklings and urgings, whims, raw, nascent ideas, and deep desires. We still need to honor our deepest selves. We still need to give ourselves permission to play.

What is Play?

Part of the problem with granting ourselves permission to play is in recognizing what play is. What we tend to think of as "play" usually sounds a lot like "work" or even "addiction." Tessa, the young mom of a toddler, said, "I play with my son, Rex, I suppose. But maybe that's more for him than for me." Brenda told us, "All I think or talk about is my job. I love my job, so I enjoy that. Is that play?" Margaret plays solitaire on her iPad every night while she watches TV with her husband. Does that sound like play to you? Such is the plight of the proficient, responsible adult in the modern world, where life can be hugely out of balance, with everything shifted to the intellect, leaving our hearts starved.

Play is the portal through which we actualize our imaginings, childhood and otherwise. Play encompasses infinite variability, and is almost impossible to define. Maybe we struggle with it because we tend to think of play as pretend vs. real, or make-believe vs. reality. In actuality, what play does for us is blur the lines between the two, moving us into a free connection with pure possibility. And when we experience that, we see. We recognize and welcome it.

The Sprite (Council Suit)
by Deb Richards

I Am One Who calls you to spontaneity and joy. I Am One Who reminds you to taste life! I Am One Who invites you through the door of creativity.
What's Play Got to Do with SoulCollage®?

In the pre-Barbie era of my childhood, paper dolls were my first Neters (which means Ally, Guide, or Callenger).

In the deeply personal world of paper doll Neters, I could be a movie star, an acrobat, an equestrian. I could create an entire world-a Hollywood mansion, an elegant dressing room, a Big Tent, barns and stables for my imaginary horses. My paper doll Neters spoke to my imagination and nurtured my inner being, and contained the very elements that later drew me to SoulCollage®-color, form, beauty, and other aspects of play.

In the spaciousness of play, alone with my paper doll Neters, there was no fear of being scarred, no threatening presence to tell me I didn't belong, no censor or critic to tell me I wasn't doing it "right." There I was free to write my own script, to voice and to actualize through images whatever I could dream or imagine.     

Play, by definition, is anything that takes us away from the pressures of the daily and moves us to the deep present moment of our own life. It's anything that puts us in touch (and keeps us there) with our deepest joys and longings, and calls for our undivided attention in such a way that we lose track of time.
Children (Community Suit) by Deb Richards

We Are Ones Who remind you to play. We Are Ones Who are fully engaged. We call you to the present moment of your own life!

It's Not in the Cards!

The deeper I delve into the world of SoulCollage®, the more I become aware that the real value of this process is in the awakening and inviting of our soul to play. It is in what occurs within that small, two-foot-wide arc right under our noses, when we are pasting, or cutting, or delighting ourselves in the faces, forms, and flashes of color in the images laid out before us, and following them wherever they lead. This is the place of soul tending.

Whenever we invite our soul to notice, we are offering her our unconditional love and undivided attention. Whenever we encourage our soul, without censor or critic, to simply have fun, this very private, personal circle becomes the most real place, which is the very thing that makes play holy. There we are free to experiment and explore, to surprise our inner selves through spontaneity and sensation. We alter our relationship to our own ideas, assumptions, thoughts and feelings, making a space for more creative choices. Creative choices can lead to healing and transformation. SoulCollage® brings us into our core sense of self, that place of liberty and self-determination-the place of inner autonomy, which is sacrosanct.

Deb Carriger Richards is a spiritual director and writer, and serves as Director of Faith Formation at St. Mary of Nazareth Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa. She completed her SoulCollage® Facilitator training in September 2015, and leads workshops, card-making sessions, and retreats. You can reach Deb at


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 From the SCU Archives

Read Kathryn King's article Just Say Yes: SoulCollage® Gave Me the Nerve to Sing My Songs in Mid-Life from the May, 2015 issue

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