Imagination is funny It makes a cloudy day sunny It makes a bee think of honey Just like I think of you – “Imagination” Music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke
Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions. – Albert Einstein
On my home street play and imagination existed since Pong was not enough to keep us indoors. A new boy on the street was making a ruckus one day, inviting me to play. He brought a table out to the curb of the street, creating an imaginary wagon from the old west. We had Indians on our trail, so we had to secure the “wagon” with our six-shooter toy guns. Even though my new friend was the only one with a cowboy hat, we all were transported to the Wild West.
Imagination is something that as we grow up we are told is a hinderance. I remember being chastised for daydreaming in class. While other kids simply drooled during elementary rote-driven chants and lectures, I was dreaming of worlds filled with wonder, danger, and planets to visit. “Back to earth, young man” the teacher would say. Laughter would then ensue, punctuating the collective consciousness pulling me to be a drone and find peace in assimilation.
At what age does imagination become a subversive trait? What once brought joy and neighborhood kids together can in a classroom, boardroom, or cubicle earn unflattering looks and words at the water cooler. Sharing dreams is out of the question as we grow up. Seeing something in a new way is supposed to end at maturity with the aim of our programming becoming statically hardwired.
Imagination asks the question, “What is possible?” That sounds a bit like faith to me. It is possible that an unseen God could love us so much that he actually found a way to solve our issues that separate us from him. He sent Jesus to do this. Imagine. Then believe. Belief is a muscle exercised by imagining what could be and should be. We experience truth as more than cognitively adjusted chemicals in our brain. We learn to see the possibilities of how a proposition works in life by imagination.
Mystical and magical are not the domain of Disney, they are unclaimed homesteads of the reality of a life born in the Spirit. Faith comes from objective ideals, but those ideals have to be imagined in order to be applied. In fact, most of the wonder we experience in life results from something first imagined, everything from iPhones to espresso. We celebrate everywhere dreamers, unless we end up being the dreamer. Unthinkable.
All of this brings me back to that table that became a wagon in the Wild West. Kids use imagination for play. Grown ups use imagination to create. (Is there a difference?) What was natural for a child we now re-learn by necessity to solve our pragmatic issues for everything from freeway traffic to curing cancer. Don’t be so grown up. Imagine it. Then maybe you can actually believe in it once again. Being in the image of God means we are meant to imagine. Imagine that.