Zechariah prophesies, “The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” [Zechariah 8:5] of the new Jerusalem. If you talk to parents in the Guatemala City garbage dump (or any community like it), parents will tell you they long for their children to be able to be safe on their streets. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is both here today and coming in the future. We can see glimpses of the coming kingdom, and how we see the glimpses makes a big difference.
There is another mindset, like the one of scarcity vs. abundance, that shapes how we view difficult places. Do we see them as playgrounds or battlegrounds? There is no denying that the violence that often marks communities makes viewing them as a battleground simple, but can we see the play that is also present. Play is creative and generous. Play works together and includes others. Children in every community can remind us the value of play for hope and wholeness, pointing us to the coming kingdom Zechariah prophesies about.