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PLAY.WONDER.BELONG: A Daily Journey Through Lent with Children (of all ages)

Created by play.wonder.belong - posted with permission from @joannajames

Lent Day 1

The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-27)

I was scared when you asked me

to give it all away,

to trust your love was safe.

I have always been my own protector,

my own defender

even when no one else was.

If my life was stripped bare

If I risked it all for you,

. Would I be made the fool?


Lent Day 2

Eve's Walk from the Garden (Genesis 3)

I wondered, Would I walk

in gardens with you again?

Would I forever be

marked & marred in

my mistakes?

I wondered,

Would you ever look

at me the same,

Would say once again

with tenderness

that I was good,

truly Good?


Lent Day 3

Esther's Musings (Esther Chapter 4)

Could I ever be More than the symmetry of my face

More than the shape of my body

More than a symbol

of what they want to see?

Could I be

My spine

My morals

My mind?

For such a time as this,

Could I inspire

Leaders to be good

Men to be wise

And a people to be saved?


Rest Day.


Lent Day 4 Elijah's Dark Night (1 Kings 19: 4-14)

The roads of my soul

Are streets stripped bare

haunted shadows

Of what once was

awake & alive


Do you ask me to

Get up,

Stand up,

Grow up?


Or do you say

Lie down now

Give it time

Rest a little while now.


I wonder,

Will the sun rise again?

Will you make all things new?


Lent Day 5

Moses Searches for God's Face (Exodus 33)

Why did you hide your face,

When I needed you the most? .

Why did your hand cover me,

When I was most desperate to see?


Would your goodness always pass me by

hidden in the cleft?

Will I always just see your back?


Lent Day 6

Joseph, The Dying of a Dream (Genesis 37-50)

Greatness: a mirage that

Lured me by day

Inspired images that

Lulled my every sleep.

But the dream coat

was stripped off

Left bare beneath the ground.

A pit not a palace,

No sheaves or stars there to bow down.

Did You know?

Did you know my dreams were nothing?

Did you know all this time

my fears were true? .

...that what I was,

was Ordinary.

Just dust to dust

through and through.


Lent Day 7

The Man on the Mat; On ‘Dependency, Community & Belonging’ (Luke 5:18-25)

Many mats

Many years

Many hands

Many tears

Each one has carried me.

Many tries

Many trips

Many times

Many slips

Each time held hope for me.

Lowered down

Careful now,

Steady on their feet

I don’t know how,

But they got me here to You.

Is this the place

Where I am not too much?

Is this the place

Where I'm finally home?


Lent Day 8

Ruth, Widowed & Working the Fields (Ruth 2:1-12)

I do all I can

to prove that i am

worthy of a

happy ending.


Will the path be kind?

Or will I always tread tender tracks

. fearing that my state

will forever negate

this road from ever rising?


Lent Day 9

Woman at the Well, On Living without Privilege (John 4:4-26)

Raised jug above my head

Sun beats down

I head to the well

No one is around


It wears out my body

To avoid them all this way

But I don’t want the questions

I don’t know what to say... I don’t know what to say


This wasn't what I wanted

This isn't who I want to be

Sure, yeah

I wish my life was different

Wish I'd been born

with Opportunity.


Sun rises higher now

A stranger sits down

A drink is offered

Eyes squint and inquire

Does this look pry and judge

Only seeing my sins

Or do these eyes look deeper

And honour the story that's within?


Lent Day 10

Israelites in Babylon, On Living Far from Home (Jeremiah 29)

Would you

take me back to

the trees that once sheltered

the garden that once grew

the streets that once

carried me home?


I ache for a place

That is For me

I ache for a place

That is not against me


Would you take me back? .

Wind settles over me

It stops

In this place

It stops

Lifts my gaze

To the trees that hold me now

To the garden nourishing me here

To this new road that now carries me


In this place

I lift my gaze

. Could I let the Land Love me?

Could I let Land take me into belonging?


Rest Day.


Lent Day 11

A Young David, On Waiting (1 Samuel 28-37)

through valleys, rough terrain

Together we've fought

bears and lions

we've fought

my demons too.


But when I try to

move from here

to boldly take steps forward

My brothers send me back again.

And I think that

you too, refuse.


But would you not

be with me?

I wonder why you pause.

Would you not be at my side,

to fight this giant too?


Lent Day 12

David's Affair, On Lust & Pain (2 Samuel 11:1-5)

Found some things

Balms for pain

crowds who cheer

lovers unnamed.


Try to soothe,

this broken place

My life: a constant Chase

I don’t know how

to stop,

say No.


But I know.

I've always known,


It should be You...


But if Your love

is so strong,

Why do I still hurt the way I do?


Lent Day 13

Hagar, On Oppression (Genesis 16:1-1, Pt. 1)

I've always lived below

the place where real lives live

In the shadows of real families

behind noble lineage


I do my best

I fold, I clean, and cook

I lay my life down

In the ways I thought a servant should


I thought I'd given everything

Until they asked for 'just one more thing'

they asked for, 'all of me:

my womb, my dignity' .

Is my life just a prop

to the other lives that matter?


Could there be some care for me,

Someone who sees my suffering.


Lent Day 14

Sarai, On 'Not Being Enough' (Genesis 16:1-16, Pt. 2)

I didn't think I was

the woman he wished I was

I didn't think I was

the woman he wished I was

I wondered if my authenticity

was another word for flaws:



Got lost in swirls of jealousy

Lashed out at those

around me

was angry with the women for whom, 'It all came so easily'


I flinch too,

at this rumbling

drum of my life.


But can you hear it?

Is it audible to you?

Beneath the pounding

there are strings that mourn

This: not just kick beats,

but a grieving melody.


Lent Day 15

Simon Peter, On ‘Holding onto Wonder’ Mark 1:16-20

A long time ago

someone once told me,

to lay aside

my foolish dreams

"Time to move on"

was what they said

"No one is coming or calling,

build yourself a life instead"


So I chartered my own path

And i built myself a boat

made something

that would last

(At least, that is what I hoped)

But even though they said

you wouldn't ever show

I tried my best in

wind and waves

Never to let go.

I couldn’t

I wouldn’t

Let go

of inner hope

that the mystery wrapped

within the horizon

was that one day

You'd Show.


Lent Day 16

Zaccheus, On Community (Luke 19:1-10)

For all the times

I've tried to change

To be more honest

Not stay the same.

I'd always feared

I couldn't need

anyone or group

they'd already seen

the worst in me.

I waited and I wondered

One day

Could One look up

And call me down

from this hiding?

Invite me to their tribe,

a place of new abiding? .




For all the times

I've wanted change

I fear

they'll always

see me the same.


Rest day.


Lent Day 17

The Widow's Last Jar, On Fear & Scarcity (2 Kings 4:1-7)

I told him I was afraid.


He asked,

Why do you fear?


I have a little for now,

But not enough for later.


He asked,

What do you have?


Just some oil

a small simple jar.


He instructed:

Step out

Lean on

Watch the oil


Watch the little

Become a lot

When others

are involved.


I said,

I'm still afraid.


He said,

I know

I know you are.

It's going to be OK.


Because together,


is Enough.


Lent Day 18

Abram, On Trust (Genesis 12:1-10)

While we sat in the field

and we looked up at the sky

I told you I wanted

to be fruitful

my life to multiply.

And in the night

I heard your promise

This, I could not deny.

So I rose, went forth

to a plot of open land

tried to trust you

through and through.

Always take your hand.


Through and through

I trusted you

through war &

through the famine

I trusted you with

my family,

my marriage...

even though it was



So now I can’t help but ask

Should it really feel this way?

Should a life etched with trust and wonder

feel so stretched,

so torn at every seam?

. Was that blanket of stars

we looked at,

Not Your promise,

but just my dream?


Lent Day 19

Noah, On Community Suffering (Genesis 6-8)

I lifted my eyes

dark clouds hovered

I lifted my arms

felt the wind

swirl around us

I didn't know why,

I was safe

while they suffered

I knew it wasn't because

You loved them Any Less.


I watched the

earth crack open

Your tears began to fall

for the child hurting

the mother weeping

the father in mourning,

And the friends

who were grieving.



from this

little boat,

my tears

fell too.


Lent Day 20

Man with Leprosy, On Isolation (Mark 1:40-45)

When the town was

taken from me,


I sat alone.


Outside the city gates

eerie silence echoed

in a canyon of dry land


Wasteland from



I feared they had

forgotten me


I wondered,

Would you forget me, too?


Lent Day 21

Moses, On 'Doing it Scared' (Exodus 17:1-17)

I do not want to tell them,

that I am scared as well.

If I look too far ahead

the fears begin to swell...

Worried manna will run out

the meat and water too.

Will we always have enough?

Will I be enough for them,

if I walk with these fears too?


My voice shakes

but I tell them,

Though we cannot see

the months ahead

We will live in rhythm

with our days

My hands tremble

but I open them

We must not hoard,

but show Love Always.


Though we cannot see

the months ahead,

Still we have this day

And the Love that's

always led us,

will still lead

when we're afraid.


Lent Day 22

Parable of the Knocking Neighbour, On 'Prayer & Silence' (Luke 11:5-13)

I climbed the front steps

with some questions & some needs

I stood on the front porch

wanting someone to listen,



When I knocked,

I heard no

footsteps shuffle

along your hardwood floor


When I knocked,

I heard no

voices muffled

behind this great big door


And I felt the echoes

of an empty place

a home that was 'no more'

I reasoned to myself,

You must not

live here anymore.


Rest day.


Lent Day 23

The Israelites and the Tabernacle, Worship in the Wilderness (Exodus 25-31)

We didn't have a mighty box

four walls of brick-and-mortar

We wanted a place more permanent

So we could plan what time

You'd be there.

Could we find you now

in wild places

where tent walls

blow with every breeze?

Could we find you now

in untamed land

where rivers flow

undefined by routine?

We had wanted a mighty box

not an ever-changing landscape,

Could we find you now

A Divine Mystery

Could we gather now

In a Sanctuary unseen?


Lent Day 24

Leah, On Living Unloved Genesis 29:14-35

My village always told me

I was tolerable,

not exactly desirable.

My friends explained

I was comfortable,

nothing really admirable.


I didn't ever capture attention,

or incite Love unaccompanied

by hesitations.


But here I am now,

In the place

I should most belong

Here, I finally

let down my guard

And reach out my hands

to receive that which

my heart has always needed.




no hands reach back for me.


Will living a life unloved

always be my truth?

Will I always be

second choice

even here and now with You?


Lent Day 25

Nurse of Mephibosheth, On Caregiving in the Wilderness (2 Samuel 4)

I have loved you

all your life,

and through other storms

I kept you inside.

I protected

your small body

from matters which

make swords rise.

But now as we are running

through terrain

I've never faced

I'm not sure I can

be your everything,

I'm not sure I am

your safe place.

I'm sorry I'm not stronger

I can't carry you perfectly

but for every time I trip,

I pray once again for Mercy.

Mercy to cover over

Everything I couldn't be

Mercy to give you peace

and bring you back

to the table



Lent Day 26

Joshua, Walking in the War (Joshua 6:1-23)

The waiting made me antsy

I wanted to see swift change

I wanted to move my body

and run high on adrenaline.

You know how

I love the conquest

the great race

between many things.


But all we did for months

was walk round and round

those walls

All we did for months,

was wait for

barriers to fall.


You know my stress

You know my worry

And still you ask

that I walk, not hurry.


Still you promise

that in the walking

lay a great and many things

not normally glimpsed

while running,

but so worthy to be seen.


Lent Day 27

Jacob, On Wrestling God (Genesis 32:22-32)

In the night we fought.

I pinned you

from every side

I pushed you hard. You hurt me.

I fought back.


I cried.

I did not fight to win,

I just fought to Know.

But when morning rose

and day began to break,

I loosened my grip

and looked into

the face of the one

I'd fought so long

It was not Yours,

but Mine

illumined now

by new day's light.


Lent Day 28

Prophet Habakkuk, When Labour Bears No Fruit (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Feet stand firm on

fields forgotten

cast off by clouds

who'd long since cleared


Eyes lift up to see

gnarled branches

silhouetted bare on sky

the promise of fruit

now seen as a lie


Hands reach to touch

Vines twisted on this trellis

they deceptively slither

with vague assurances


And a heart holds fear

that trust has been betrayed

When everything was entrusted,

Was it all just taken away?


Rest Day.


Lent Day 29

Tower of Babel, On Losing Self-Constructed Greatness (Genesis 11:1-9)

Our hands constructed

Towers of iron and gold

Our projects looked mighty!

(Or so we were told)

We made some ladders

of honour, prestige too

We wanted to climb up

Be a part of the select few

We laboured and we toiled,

We climbed til' we ached

We wanted so badly

To each Be something Great.


But when skies cracked open

with thunder and with rain

Our towers began to crumble

Until all we were left with,

was each one with their own name.



we stood upon the rubble

when all of it was gone


We wondered,

If all those things we'd longed for

Perhaps we'd

been them

all along 💛


Lent Day 30

Abigail, Leading in Conflict (1 Samuel 25:1-42)

I couldn't always tame

the dragons in my life

I saw armies use arrows

Felt the violence

from all sides




I did not own a bow...


But there I stood

and watched

discord of many wings

Force met with Brute force

Recklessly in the winds.


At the time I wondered,

if what I had could help?

Could what I bring

disarm? Restore

this place with Peace

once more?


I went and got some bread

a little wine was also found

took them

to the middle and

Stood on that

battle ground.


Lent Day 31

Prodigal Son, The Long Walk Back Home (Luke 15:11-32)

Back in that house,

I felt couldn't breathe.

I ran over the fields to a city

filled with noises

salves to my needs.

I loved the constant chatter,

the drinking at every hour

I loved that late night buzz

All the flirting 'just because'

All those pleasures:

protective measures,

from ever feeling pain.

All those wrappings!

Didn't have be trapped in! feeling those things again.

When suddenly

my layers were stripped back

my wounds were left wide open

I felt ashamed

I felt exposed

in this pen I found myself in.


But I looked and saw

a road ahead

one that would be

walked alone

I heard the road

call out my name,

It was calling me

back Home.


Lent Day 32

The 'Older Brother', The Long Walk Back Home Pt.ll(Luke 15:11-32)

You were always so Good so faithful in your chores More responsible than anyone I'd known before. And over the fence the neighbours would watch, praise me for my Eldest "The Steady One" my "Rock" . But as you laboured the fields each Summer, Spring year-by-year I saw a tightening. You became brittle fearful to the touch fiercely guarded from ever needing much. . I'd call you from the kitchen Reach for my Beloved One you'd always flinch away "Much work to be done" . I wish that you could see that though you'd never really Run You'd also never really come. You are so worthy of my love So worthy to come Home.


Lent Day 33

Daniel, On Integrity (Daniel 6:11-23)

It has been hard

to learn that

The Right Thing

doesn't always lead to

The Blessing.

The Right Thing

sometimes means



Losing those things

holding onto me.


My life stripped down

to this pit of uncertainty

I sit and I wait

Just me, myself, Integrity.

I sit and grip

The True Things,

held deeply within

faith that Lions' mouths can close

And I will not be



Lent Day 34

The Lost Sheep, On Being Found (Luke 15:1-7)

I showed up a little late The Pack: already tight all lined up at the gate. Tried to shape up amalgamate shoulders back nice and tall stand up straight. . But I was a little clumsy stepped on a couple toes my distractions, my objections my constant wandering... you know. I couldn't quite get into an easy rhythm with the rest I couldn't quite 'settle down' even when I tried my best. . And one day, I found meandering had brought me to a meadow I wondered if this time I'd really gone too far... But over the plain I saw someone coming The Love who'd always promised to come after me running.


Rest Day. (Palm Sunday🌿)


Lent Day 35

Mary Anoints Jesus' Feet, On Beauty in Times of Need (John 12:1-11)

I sat awhile watching droplets fall softly at your feet My gift was so small, but it was precious to me. . "Had I forgotten, a world on Fire?" I heard them criticize At such a time as this! So wasteful! "Squandered time" they despised. . But you knew. You knew, I was no stranger to putting out the flames advocating, interceding wrapping arms around the pain. There is a time, you said A time for everything. . And I felt this moment of fragrant beauty It was not just for feet to be made clean. This moment of fragrant beauty, It was washing Healing over me.


Lent Day 36

The Weak, On Teaching the Wise (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

I flash my badge

as you open the door

Glance nonchalantly at

my briefcase on the floor.

We sit down for tea

I chatter with updates

stretched out workdays

Evenings up so late!


But you are a little distracted,

at the window, you look outside.

Small Ones run with barefeet, carefree

blowing bubbles in the sky.

You look back at my hands

fidget nervously with my cup.

You take them in your own

Rest assured!

So glad I showed up!


It was just that,


when it came to You and me


I could bring a little less

Didn't need my A game

Didn't need my Very Best.


I could relax my face,

take a breath

and look back to the start.

Remember that child with empty hands?

She's the one you hold here,

so deeply in Your heart.


Lent Day 37

Judas, On Betrayal (John 13:21-32)

In all the people that I am

and all the stories that I live,

I too, cut quick slick deals to thrive.

Resent the irritation,

at travelling down the needle,

to make it to the eye.


I have given my garden for some fruit

sold my brother for ‘a few’

swapped my birthright for a strew

exchanged fidelity for someone new.


Each time

I toss down palms

gather coins up

from the trade

I wonder if I have

auctioned off my own soul,

and it is Real Love that I've betrayed.


Lent Day 38 - Maundy Thursday

Peter, Having his Feet Washed by Jesus (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

The sun tucks down quietly

behind the hills into her nest

candles are lit, invitation to rest.

Soles are worn from walking,

working hard within the heat

But in the cool of the evening

We sit now, prop up our feet.

Wine in our glasses

We enjoy the banter here

Breaking bread, we draw near.

But when you say you want to wash

I don't willingly welcome the offer

Worried that by now

I shouldn't need any more water.


You say some things with words that

I try to understand.

I try to listen carefully.

Then, you say it again:

With warm rags you wrap up

the feet of men

dusty bruised

You sit with every place of me

not too broken

not too old

not too late

to be made New.


Lent Day 39 - Good Friday

Peter, The Day Love Died (Matthew 27:32-61)

It was on a Friday that I, decided it was time to say goodbye. Lay down my hopes in heroes In Holy Love Unconditional. In the end, it all just didn't hold. . Did I regret it? No... All those years spent on the road, All a waste? I didn't think so... many mothers, lepers, children fed It sure was a noble Go. Of course, we'd dreamt of More But maybe deep down we all knew To see You be our deepest hope, it was just too good to be True... . All the healings, all the teachings they couldn't save us now All the Holy Love in all the world, Couldn't even come save You.


Lent Day 40 - Holy Saturday

Peter, On Grief (John 19:39-42)

Saturday morning; was it all just a dream? My body heavy, held down Eyes cant seem to open. Outside, dawn's early waves rise and fall The familiarity of routine: it's time to get up. . I slip on my shoes, and out the front door unseen; the way I want it. I walk the morning mile to my old boat right where I'd left it, so many years ago. . And I kick it. I kick it hard. I lift up an oar and I slam it. Over and over I slam it with all my might. I hear myself shouting and cursing wood of the oar now splintering. . Did you know I would be made the fool? Did you know I'd be left with nothing... If I gave up everything to follow Him? My anger breaks me. It wears me down until I crumble, Exhausted I fall, a heap into the sand. I lean back against my boat. Knees into my chest, try to take a breath. Something in me cracks, Deep within me weeps. . My boat props me up, steady, reliable, keeps me from falling over. She holds me lets the tears flow until I slowly return my gaze, Silently I watch the waves and wonder, Is it time to accept that it's all over?


Easter Day - Easter Sunday 🕊️

Peter, On Resurrection (JOHN 21:1-14)

Each misty morning I rose dragged my self back to the sea eyes on the horizon, trying to forget the One who'd left me. To numb my life of feeling I buried myself in work focused on the tasks at hand not on promises broken, on hurt. That day, was just an ordinary one out on my boat, casting my net when I heard Someone call out to me: DON'T GIVE UP my Friend! Not just yet! I bolted up a little taller quite startled by this caller! I leaned in, peered at the shore Yes! I'd certainly heard that voice before! You stood there smiling in the sand, I laughed you grinned at me You motioned for me to come and eat To come have a rest from sea. You who'd seemed Forever Gone, Here! You, the one for whom I'd longed Back on this beach for me! I jumped from that boat swam home to You Felt cool water wash me over, making me, once again, New.


Each day we post a new photo and reflection from @joannajames for the season of LENT. Joanna James will be presenting a workshop at our next Children's Spirituality Summit. Joanna lives in Toronto, CA. and posts regular updates to her Instagram site: @play.wonder.belong - you are encouraged to follow her on Instagram or on her Facebook page.


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