We have a green checked rug in our living room. Last summer we picked it up at IKEA, marked down on sale (a sign!), to fill the blank spot on the floor. It's bright and friendly and fits perfectly in the space. But that's not even the best part.

It doubles as a giant game board!

Checkers? Chess? Go? Not today. In honor of the (extremely cheesy) new Liam Neeson movie in American theaters this weekend, we thought we'd give Battleship a try.



I made the aircraft carrier, battleship, submarine, destroyer, and patrol boat out of colored paper. Gray, of course, because battleships are gray. (I would've used my cherry-print or pink paisley paper to add a dash of ironic juxtaposition, but I'd already committed a fairly severe Battleship faux pas by referring to the pieces as "boats" rather than "ships," and was afraid of being hanged from the nearest yardarm.) Because the regular Battleship board is only 10 by 10, and our equally divided giant-board is 15 by 30, I was careful to scale the ships accordingly.

The cutest masking tape in the world helped me number the columns and rows.


We used our black and white Go stones to signify our own hits and misses, and orange paper squares to denote the hits of our opponent.


My fine-tuned Battleship strategies paid off in our first game. I won soundly! And, of course, I was a very good sport about it.

Recently I completed my Master's thesis, a collection of personal essays on my first year in Norway entitled Meditating on the Cold Light , and prepared it to submit for review by my program director. The final touch was a series of quotes from books by several of my favorite authors. The opening quote sums up exactly what I cherish most about my relationship with Jonathan. It's an excerpt from Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire :

For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of adventures.

When we are children, seeing this way is so natural. I think it's one of the reasons children are also better at faith. It is required of them, yet they cannot comprehend the consequences of abandoning that requirement. As we grow older, we demand to see before we are willing to believe anything: that people are good, that a window opens whenever a door closes, that God is watching out for us. Our demands make seeing the marvelous beauty of simplicity impossible. Our demands make too much noise and take too much time.

As children, we could see the castle in a cardboard box. We recognized rushing rainwater in the gutter as the raging Mississippi. Every average, mundane, everyday, unimportant household object held the potential for excitement and adventure. If we put our minds to it, we can still see the checked rug passed over daily in our living room as a place for games.

And we can still laugh like children as we play them.