The Virtue of Eutrapelia

Grandma practicing the virtue of Eutrapelia with granddaughter Claire

A friend of mine, Bob Trube, works with university faculty and graduate students through a Christian ministry, reads more books than I eat sandwiches, and has a popular book review blog. Bob’s a deep thinker. When I have a conversation with him about some of the things he’s reflecting on I’m concerned I might develop a headache, trying to think his thoughts after him and attempting to respond intelligently to them.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, racial pain, and political polarization, Bob’s been posting a daily cartoon on his Facebook page. He’s also posted about his favorite sports teams. As serious as Bob can be, and he can be very serious, he has this lighter side, which I’m glad he’s sharing during these difficult times. We all need to lighten up!

Bob’s expressing the virtue of eutrapelia, and I’m betting Bob doesn’t have to look this word up! Because you and I aren’t Bob, let me try and explain it to us. Author Magnus Sannleikur wrote in his article “The Forgotten Virtue of Eutrapelia” (and to whom I must give credit for some of the thoughts I share here) that Eutrapelia is “related to playfulness and good-natured fun. It’s the simple joy that enlivens company and warms the heart.”

Those of us who believe in God and that He’s all loving and really cares about us should, of all people, be able to exhibit moments of humor, good-natured fun, and pushing back gloom and doom, even during difficult times. Too often, however, we can act as if we’ve partaken of prune juice instead of grape juice or wine the last time we had Communion! Jesus said we should be the light of the world. He certainly was referencing our need to proclaim truth, especially the truth about Him, but I can’t help but believe that being the light of Christ also includes brightening up things wherever we go!

We may not all be as funny, humorous, and quick witted as some, but we can laugh and enter into the fun when others are! It’s good to lighten up and not take everything so seriously. It’s okay to take time and relax, enjoying the gift of leisure. We’re not the super hero that has to save the world; hang up the cape! God has even given us one day in seven to take it easy and to not take ourselves so seriously, a goofoff day called Sunday or the Sabbath.

So we have God’s permission to lighten up and seek to enjoy the gift of life He’s given us. Laugh at something funny, play games with others, do something that makes someone smile, and look for other ways to have good-natured fun that expresses the virtue of Eutrapelia! Don’t bother trying to remember the word, we’ll leave that to my friend Bob. Just remember, and practice, what it means!

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” Psalm 92:4

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