Lady Pastor: Imagination is a bridge between people
I recently returned to volunteering in a local kindergarten classroom on Thursday mornings. My weekly hour there is fun. Tremendously so. Being in that life-giving, educational environment for even a small amount of time provides an instant burst of energy and perspective.
Each day is a precious gift. I forget that sometimes. But kids remind me of what matters most when I am tempted to be stressed by things like last-minute schedule changes, an underfunded church budget, and the endless search for sermon inspiration.
Last week, one youngster and I were doing some alphabet practicing. We used a stack of large cardboard pieces. On each piece was a letter in both its upper and lower-case format. There was also a photo on each card of a word beginning with the specified letter. For example, Y = a photo of a red yo-yo. Q = a photo of a majestic queen on her throne.
The assignment was for the student to say the name of the letter, the object in the photo, and then pronounce the letter's sound.
We worked our way through the stack of cards. Then came "f." The card featured a photo of a fountain. My young friend tilted her head to the side and pondered for a long moment.
"F. Fountain. Fffff," she said. Then she closed her mouth for the tiniest pause before opening it again with eyes wide.
"And guess what else?" A smile enveloped her entire face.
"What?" I knew it was important to keep practicing our stack of letters, but I could not wait to hear what she wanted to share.
"I'm going to go there. I'm going to go to that fountain. And it will be so much fun. I am going to swim. And play. I will take my mom. And my whole family."
"That sounds terrific," I said, suddenly realizing that a tropical fountain getaway actually did sound pretty enjoyable. I wouldn't have imagined that without my young friend's help! All I had noticed was a nondescript alphabet practice card.
We continued through the stack of letters. The student returned to the classroom. I looked at the photo of the fountain one last time, praying for a way to reconnect with my own imagination.
When that youngster looked at the alphabet card and its slightly blurred photo of a fountain, she saw something more. In an instant, she was able to imagine a whole world of possibilities. Every detail clear in her mind's eye.
The use of imagination isn't only for the six and under crowd. We were all created to imagine, believe, and dream.
A healthy, active imagination is a useful tool for life! Thinking outside the box allows us to solve problems creatively. It also helps us to envision new and beneficial patterns of behavior.
Using our imaginations can even free us to visit places or have new experiences from anywhere. I may not be able to visit my seminary pal, Kirsten, in Cairo anytime soon, but I can certainly imagine it!
That ability to conjure up an experience without actually having it can serve as a bridge that connects us to other people and places.
The Bible, too, is filled with examples of imagination at its best. God provided the Psalmists and authors of Isaiah with amazing imaginations. Their creative thinking brought forth such images of God as a mighty eagle, strong tower, and compassionate shepherd.
Without the use of imagination, life and faith would be very different experiences! We can give great thanks that human beings have been equipped with the ability to imagine. May we strive to use this gift from God today and each day of our lives.
The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor in Stewartville. Visit her blog at: www.emilyannecarson.com .