Monday, 9 March 2009

Sweeping The Playground

Last Monday Polly and I were invited to take part in the Daffodil day celebration at Westminster Central Hall in London. The theme was The Earth Is The Lords and about 2000 people attended. Polly performed the poem Red Shift and a sketch called Sweeping The Playground. Both pieces went down really well, I'm pleased to say. A few people have asked about the scripts.

Sweeping The Playground came from the show Hopes And Dreams and was a 2 hander. We converted it to a monologue for this event. Before anyone accuses me of some kind of theological inconsistency I'm absolutely happy to accept that Genesis chapter one is a creation myth, and not, as some people bizarrely hold, an accurate and scientific account of the origins of life, the universe and everything. But, as with many myths, there may be truths worth exploring within them.


Just look at this mess, honestly, it's enough to make you weep, isn’t it? And as usual it’s down to me, the caretaker, to clear it up, though it doesn’t seem fair to me. Not that fair comes in to it. I am sweeping one corner of the greatest act of concentrated creativity ever… ever created.

I was there right at the beginning you know. “And God created the heavens and the earth.” Wallop. There I was. It caught me quite by surprise I can tell you. One moment nothing, the next instant ‘Zap!’ you’re stretching your wings and forming a choir. Quite disconcerting I can tell you.

I tried to have a word with the creator, but the Creator, he was already on to other things. He was busy creating the universe. I shouted after him, “it doesn’t have to be so big.” But did he listen? Did he buffalo. I thought to myself, anything this vast and intricate is going to be a nightmare to maintain. I’d better grab a broom.

I can’t you tell how much there is to keep clean. In this galaxy alone there are one hundred billion stars. I told him that he was going over the top. Who needs a hundred billion stars? But he didn’t stop there, oh no. There are billions of galaxies, each one as unique as a snowflake. This was creativity in abundance. A celebration of imagination.

Eventually, when he’d finished painting with broad strokes, so to speak, he got down to detail. Planets and moons and such like. I noticed he paid attention to one planet in particular. A blue green one whipped with white clouds and as beautiful as anything you’re ever likely to see. I could tell he intended this one to be special.

I pointed out to him that he was spending too much time in one place. When you’re painting on a canvas the size of the universe no one is going to appreciate the minutiae. God just smiled. A smile on the face of God is like… is like… the first day of a long holiday. Or it’s a cool breeze on a hot day. It’s like a hot drink after playing in the snow

Yes. When God smiles you know everything is going to be perfect. When God looked at planet earth he smiled.

He loved it. I could tell. He made oceans and he made the land. The oceans he filled with fish and creatures of the deep and the land he sculpted with mountains and plains and valleys. The land was lush with grasses and flowers. Forests quilted the landscape. Creatures walked, crawled and slithered everywhere.

I watched the Creator build his kingdom, though he was less like an architect and more like a child at play. There was joy in his invention.

Then when everything was perfect he reached out and took up a handful of dust from the ground which he shaped and moulded. A head, two arms, legs. Then God breathed his Spirit into the dust and man became alive.

And I thought ‘uh oh, here’s trouble.’ Later, when it had all gone pear shaped, I asked him why he had put such a creature as man into his perfect kingdom.

He showed me the universe again. The countless galaxies, the billions and trillions of stars tied up with cosmic string. Then he showed me man again, puny and imperfect man. And there, uniquely, I saw the divine spark that God had breathed into him at the moment of his creation.

Oh, and he hasn’t ruined everything. There’s still hope. Lots of it. You see the Creator doesn’t see humans as just another cog in the machinery of his universe. He sees them as part of the process of creation. They’re not here to just decorate the kingdom like pretty peacocks. (Which is fortunate really 'cos most of the ones I’ve seen couldn’t decorate a living room with a can of paint and some self-adhesive wall paper. )

My job is just to sweep up, but they can actually build the kingdom of God here on earth.
But it made me think why did God make all this for them? It’s incredible.

But then, ask yourself this, why does any father build anything, if not for his children?

Stephen Deal, 1998

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that, Stephen. It really IS wonderful, an inspired piece of writing. I was involved in "Here & Now", but not with "Hopes & Dreams", even though I have heard a lot about it. Thank you for sharing those thoughts of yours here, they ARE special.


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