Saturday, July 13, 2013

Deep Well: Imagination

When I was a kid, I used to tell stories about Martians.

My parents would listen to my stories and help make them into illustrated books. I'm sure we still have those somewhere. Monuments to childhood imagination.

I met my best friend because I was reading a book about monsters at the pool. Instead of, you know, swimming, like normal children do. Not only monsters--a game about monsters. You could pretend to be the monsters! Dan and I hit it off right away.

We were trying to defeat this guy. He was mean.

Dan and I were talking about this recently. About why we're so attracted to science fiction and fantasy, to flights of the imagination. So I was thinking on it, and then ended up pretending to be a wizard while playing a board game with some friends here at Wesley (I was the worst wizard ever. I died three times and lost us the game).

And I was reflecting on the fact that both in college and here at seminary, I have a lot of friends who like to do this. Who still like to play make believe. And I hope we can all hold on to that, because we need imagination.


This is Homs, in Syria. Envisioning a healed Syria, for example,
takes a lot of imagination.
Now I'm sure that a lot of the reason that a lot of us are attracted to this kind of thing is escapism, which is fine. We all need a little bit of that sometimes. But I'm also sure that imagination is a necessary ingredient in any sort of belief that another world is possible. I remember a few years ago my bible study at the time was reading a section of the book of Revelation (speaking of pretending to be dragons) and I was wondering out loud whether I even had the capacity to imagine a city renewed, a city without "unhoused neighbors" and "food insecurity" and "social safety nets" and all the other images and euphemisms we throw around to try to describe the fact that this is a city bursting with need and hurt. I wonder if that's a feat of imagination against which undead dragons sort of pale in comparison.

So today I'm reflecting on imagination, on the connection between pretending to be a wizard and the deep well of spiritual sustenance that we are all going to need if we're going to be in this "hope" thing for the long haul.

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