Claire’s description shows me what Berryman is talking about when he says, “Laughter signals that play has been established as a basis for the relationship. When framed by play both presence and absence can be engaged at levels unavailable in any other way. If one hides too long, moves too quickly or roughly, or shouts 'peek-a-boo' too loudly the transitional space is shattered and the play is over. The game disintegrates and all lose” (7).
As I listened, I understood that the delight Claire and Evan experienced was mutual. I believed her when she told me that Evan is the joy of her life, and she no doubt is his joy. Hide and seek may not only mirror the relationship of parent and child who necessarily spend some time apart, but may also relieve their anxieties experienced in that separation. How wonderful that mothers and fathers have a form of play therapy so accessible.
Berryman continues, “More variations of this game appear during the teenage years. Adolescents play hide-and-seek with their parents, their teachers, and with each other. Courtship includes hide-and-seek in its rituals . . . adolescents are also at play with their own deep selves . . . . The poets seem to be the best and most articulate players of this game. Perhaps their love for and use of metaphor is a kind of compressed game of hide-and-seek in itself, which makes them more comfortable with play. The poets make it quite clear that this game is not trivial” (8).
Berryman suggests that this playful activity creates a rhythm in our lives, supporting our efforts toward maturity.
Then he draws on Samuel Terrien’s sense of “hide-and-seek as the single thread that unifies the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. It is the experience of God’s elusive presence, which weaves the sweeping narrative and other genres together” (Berryman 10).
Can the game of hide and seek help us to understand our seeking after God and God’s seeking after us? Perhaps we can trust the experience of hiding, as a necessary component of growth. I am wondering how the metaphor of a children’s game will help me trust the nature of my relationship with God.