Are You a Solitary Player or a Group Player?


This is a painting, “Children’s Games”, done in 1560 by a Flemish painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  The painting is filled with about 200 children playing nearly 80 games or various play activities, all of which are played in the out-of-doors.  If I look closely enough, I can recognize many of these games for I played them or a variation of them well into the twentieth century.

From Ms. Miriam Forman-Brunell’s annotation: “Physically energetic and imaginatively engaged girls and boys are everywhere in Bruegel’s busy painting. Some are using their bodies, others are playing with children and/or with toys (e.g., windmill; hoops). Here are some examples. Three boys mounted on a red fence are pretending to race horses. A few are playing leapfrog and others playing “horsey” and “tug of war.” Another is straddling a hobbyhorse. Two girls are playing a medieval form of jacks (knucklebones) but with a bone instead of a ball. A group of children playing dress-up are staging a wedding. A small group of boys are spinning tops (a popular toy). A girl is playing musical instruments, another with a doll. A few boys are balancing on barrels. Some children are engaged in solitary play (e.g., blowing bubbles; dollmaking). While some are playing gently, there are rough bullies here as well.” *

I was a solitary player.  I liked to read both indoors and out (on the roof when I got old enough and Mom would let me …see my post –  I liked to play dolls in the corner of the school playground.  I liked to build a waterfall on the gentle slope besides my Daddy’s garden as he tilled and weeded after work.  I liked to play secretary in the large tree where no one could get to me for the other kids were younger than I.  Two large branches ran somewhat parallel but offset from one another to make a bench and a desk for me.  There I would sit, up in that big ol’ tree, and pretend to peck away on an invisible typewriter.  Maybe this little dream-up game of mine comes from when we went to get Daddy after work when he was Chief of Medicine at a Naval hospital.  We would go into his secretary’s office to wait and Mrs. Pavey maybe was still typing.  Yes, I imagine that was probably it! I walked to the library when I reached the junior high age and sat on Mr. S’s stone fence and read my book before getting home where I had two younger sisters.

I played with others too.  I jumped rope and played dolls with at least a few girls.  I spent the night with some of them too.  I drew wallpaper with another for a Girl Scout badge.  I played in the high school band and went on parade or competition bus trips.

My most memorable play-moments of days gone by were just by myself.  And I still like to read alone at Barnes and Noble or Starbucks.

BUT…I love to sit by a river while camping with Kenneth.  I enjoy a walk in God’s beautiful world, sharing the natural world with this man.  He is my best friend and I love being with him.

So, which am I?  a solitary player or a small group (like 2) player?  It doesn’t matter as I enjoy both.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.   Matthew 14:23

Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and [the] Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and [from] beyond the Jordan.  Matthew 4:25

Jesus needed to be alone.  He also was amongst many.

God made me as I am.  He melded my heart into His shape for me, for my life.  I want to sit at His feet no matter whether I am alone or with others.  I want to play His way, whatever that may be.  I am learning and willing to be shaped so that I am in His will.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.  Luke 10:39

“…but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”   Luke 10:42

I want to choose that “good portion” and I have.

Jesus called me to be alone with Him in the garden.  I come to Him in that garden…alone.

In The Garden Hymn

C. Austin Miles (1868 – 1946) written in 1912

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I fall at His feet, asking forgiveness.  I know that He is the Son of God.  I know that I am with Him to do and be as He wills for my very life for I have given it to Him, my very life.

…and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—  Colossians 3:10

I am His and His new creation.  I play alone but am never alone.  I play with others and always know that I have One more playmate for He walks with me wherever I go.

Praising You, my LORD.  Thank You for creating me to be able to be alone and to be okay with that.  Or to be amongst others, with others and to be okay with that.  You made me:

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.  Psalm 139:16-18

We are always together, You and me.

“And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”  As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.   John 8:29-30

May this be so.  Amen. 

Source of Painting:  Full image of Kinderspiele, “Children’s Games”, date 1560, Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569).  Source Snow, Edward A. (1997). Inside Bruegel. New York: North Point Press. Picture from front cover plate.  From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository;  “Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “Children’s Games” [Painting],” in Children and Youth in History, Item #332,

* Annotation:  Annotated by Miriam Forman-Brunell.  “File:Children.jpg”, Wikimedia Commons, (accessed October 23, 2009).

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