I have been thinking about imagination lately. One of the speakers at the Lewis fellowship talked about the importance of leading a church family to imagine God's possibilities. Without the practice of imagining God's Kingdom, the ways it differs from the world, and the new possibilities offered, it is difficult to move where God is leading. This is closely related to perspective, which I wrote about recently, which explains the fascination.
My four year daughter Shannon and two year old son Jacob know a lot about imagination. Shannon is able to lead them in imaginative play for an hour or more. This morning, she decided they would be cats. (and since Jacob doesn't talk yet, she always decides!) They got out bowls and filled them with "cat food." They had a cat birthday party for Shannon. They got down on all fours and moved around the floor. The rest of the time they were in the next room, but whatever they were imagining, I heard laughter, so it sure was fun.
This evening, I was in the next room listening to them play duck duck goose. This is hilarious to listen to when there are only two players. Jacob must have been sitting on the floor, and he was tapped on the head repeatedly..."duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, goose!" Then they got up, chased each other, and laughed will silly delight.
This seems to me to be one of the beautiful and delightful aspects of imagination. Who says you need more players to have fun playing duck duck goose? It simply depends upon whether you have a good imagination.
Imagination has always been a part of good preaching, especially in the African American tradition. What else might Jesus have said to his disciples at the Last Supper? I can imagine. What did the disciples talk about when they were locked in that same room after Jesus was crucified, before the Risen One came to them, when they were terrified for their lives? I can imagine. How did the poor widow feel, and how did she have her basic needs met, after she gave the Father all that she had to live on? I can imagine.
The role of imagination did not even begin with Christians. Imagination has also been a tradition in Judaism stretching back millenia. It is called midrash. Ancient Rabbis were asked all kinds of questions like the ones I just wrote (relating to the Hebrew Bible a.ka. Old Testament). These are now compiled in books and books of writings, and still inform both Jews and Christians today.
Imagination seems to me to be a window into my own soul, and into the presence of God. Perhaps this is why children have such wonderful imaginations. God has given them an innate ability to really see- into themselves, and into the presence of God.