They might just be amongst the two most powerful words in the world. You’ve probably heard them today; you might even have said them this week. They are slightly over-used and often said hastily, without too much thought. Yet, these words unlock a beautiful God-given gift. Two simple words:
Dreaming beyond the here and now
“Imagination is the beginning of creation,” George Bernard Shaw once said. It’s an inherent part of who we are as humans – we dream, we hope, we long for something beyond the here and now, beyond our present reality. If we let them, our imaginations can carry us—at least momentarily—to different countries with whiffs of exotic spices on the air, or to completely strange and fantastical worlds. They can plunge us into the past or the future faster than any time-travel machine could. They can help us dream of engineering, environmental or social solutions and compose majestic music long before we write down a single note.
Imagination – the underrated gift
Do we value this remarkable gift enough? I suspect not. Our fast paced, Google-driven world is not very conducive to imaginative ‘daydreaming’. Daydreaming has the negative connotation of being flighty, fanciful and inattentive. Our education systems value maths and science over doodling and whimsical composition. Television shows and computer games might satisfy our need for escape and adventure, but I believe they dull our unique imagination and creativity with ready-made images and plots.
We should be allowing ourselves and our children long, leisurely stretches of time where our minds take us to places not yet seen, places that could brighten our own and others’ lives. Perhaps we need more daydreaming and less homework (apologies to every teacher reading this!) for by discouraging imagination we deprive our world of the very dreams and visions that could bring seeds of hope and restoration.
Imagination as a means to discovering what is real and true
“Imagination is more important than reality to the creative person because it is often only through the imagination that we are able to find what is real.” ( Paul Lucas)
I’ve experienced this ‘finding what is real’ as a writer. In my book “Encounters” I used my imagination to meander through time and space and onto the streets of Ancient Israel. How often hadn’t I thought, “I wonder what it would have been like to meet Jesus face to face on earth?” By stepping into the gospel stories and—through imagination—becoming a participant in Jesus’ encounters with people, I gained new understanding into His life and ministry.
In my “Poison Tree Path Chronicles” novels, I’ve allowed my imagination to create a fantasy world and populate it with characters. Yet, even in this constructed world, I often stumble onto great truth and insights—into relationships, beliefs and hopes—through the experiences of the characters.
Start a journey
Today I challenge you to take some time out of the busy-ness of your life. Switch off the TV and computer and allow yourself to let these two simple words lead you on an exciting journey. Don’t try to dictate the direction or destination; go with the flow and enjoy the ride!
Image: “Sea Gate” by Dan, at Free Digital Photos