Okay. I confess that I play two games on my iPad. It is utterly embarrassing to admit, but there you have it. I started playing Bejeweled Blitz after I read an article that said games that are timed, special, and strategic help to stimulate parts of the brain that might impede Alzheimer’s disease. I figured my brain needed all the stimulation it could get, so, when I’m waiting for a plane to take off, or at an appointment, and I don’t have my laptop, I whip out my trusty smartphone and play Bejeweled.
The other game I play is Words with Friends. It is a game of strategy, spelling, and vocabulary, though I should admit my greatest skill is making up words and then being shocked when the game actually lets me play them. I limit myself to no more than three opponents because I just don’t have that much free time, and I don’t want to make my opponents wait for days for me to play.
Well, with that embarrassing confession off my chest, I feel a little better. Like all confessions, though, it is made easier by being able to out other colleagues. Those I compete against in Bejeweled and Words with Friends are almost all clergy colleagues. Sharing my secret “vice” with them makes me feel a little less shame because several of them are highly successful and otherwise totally functional pastors.
I say all of this with tongue in cheek … at least partially, because I am a little embarrassed. What I have discovered is that these games are gifts of sorts. I’m not sure they will help me stave off Alzheimer’s, but, for a couple of minutes, several times a day, they keep me from working and force me not to think about church, my sermon, the next book I’m writing, the church I’m consulting with, or the new seminary course I’m teaching. Sleep doesn’t get me out of work because my dreams are often church-filled, but these games keep me from working for a minute or two.
The other odd gift is that I feel connected to my “friends” who play the games with me or against me. That is just the weirdest thing to me, but the only time other than Christmas that I have seen my middle brother has been on Bejeweled. Last week he beat me, but this week I’m beating him. Who knows where you might find a brother or have a word with a friend? It is a new day, and life’s gifts come in the strangest packages … some of them embarrassing. Open them and relish them anyway.
Rev. Michael Piazza