Word Games

My daughter and I love to play word games—Scrabble, Boggle, and especially Anagrams.  We’re still using the Anagram tiles that my grandparents used to keep in a cabinet drawer in their summer cottage at Silver Lake in Michigan.  Fun to keep this old tradition going!  I remember playing this game with my mother, usually beating her, and, sigh, now I’m usually the one beaten by my daughter.  But it’s still such fun.

The rules of Anagrams are quite simple: a pile of tiles (face down) begins the game, and these tiles, each having one letter printed on them, are turned up one at a time in the center of the table. Whenever a word appears there, the first player to see and call out (often shout!) that word gets to keep it and add it to the list of words she is accumulating, all lined up in front of her.  Words must always face the other player, of course, as the other player can always add a letter or two to change a word and thus “steal” it and add it to her words.

In our most recent game, my daughter (who won the game 29-26) had gotten the word “give” and had it in front of her.  I soon stole the word, turning it into “given” when an “n” was turned over in the middle.  A short time later, she stole the word back again, making “serving” by adding an “s” and an “r” when they appeared, and as soon as an “i” showed up, I shouted “revising” and was able once again to re-claim the word.

Great fun.  And all done with a simple letter or two!  As we put the game away, I found myself musing about the power of those simple little letters: n,s,r and i.  Played at just the right time, those little letters kept the game moving and  the score teetering back and forth—adding a good bit of excitement and color to the game.

And I found myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, our little lives, our little acts of kindness, our little deeds of  justice, our little prayers—are all rather like those little letters, n,s,r, and i.  Against the backdrop of the larger-than-life events and violence of our globalized age, who we are and what we do can seem so tiny and insignificant.  Even useless at times.  But those little letters suggest to me that who we are, what we do, and what we pray really do make a difference.  Really do help to make some lives a little more comfortable.  Really do add color and joy where life is drab and difficult.  Really do help our troubled environment.  And yes, all of these “little things” really do add up and help to move our world a little closer to the game plan of shalom that God dreams for our planet.

A bit hokey?  Perhaps, but hokey or not, I rather like the lens those little letters provide to help us see more clearly the value of all the “littlenesses” of our lives.  As Kitty Kallen used to sing, “little things mean a lot.”

7 thoughts on “Word Games

  1. Kitty Kallen was a popular singer with the big bands in the 40’s and 50’s. Don’t know much about her, but I always liked her song “Little Things Mean a Lot.” It ends with “for now and forever, that’s always and ever…little things mean a lot.”
    Cheers for the letter changes in your life!

  2. Merold says: A “truth in advertising” note. You say that you and Karla sometimes “shout” the name of a letter while playing anagrams. I think “scream” would come closer, but not very close, to the reality to which you refer. You say the letters add “a bit of excitement” to the game. You neglect to say that the intensity and the noise of the game add a good bit of terror to the neighborhood. But so far no one has called the police.

  3. I remember playing games (especially a dice game) with Karla when she was about 14 years old and she was a fierce competitor then, too, and screamed quite a bit. I loved reading about your word games, but let me put in my two cents for playing games in general. They do bring us together and often keep us laughing — the noise I remember most when I played games with Karla. Laughter is a “little thing”, too.

    About Jesus, G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy: “his pathos was natural, almost casual . . . He never concealed His tears. He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet he restrained something . . . . There was something that he hid from all men when He went up to a mountain to pray. There was something that he covered constantly by abrupt silence and impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

    Ain’t it great that we don’t have to restrain ourselves? That laughter is part of the game plan of shalom that God dreams for our planet?

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