The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville
July 3, 2014
A gift from God is imagination. Children specialize in the art. Through play they act out favorite stories pretending to be heroes and angels, beauty queens and athletes. They wonder what they will be when they grow up.
In the school where my daughter-in-law and granddaughter teach, representatives from various occupations come to the school to give the children a vision of what it’s like to be a police officer, doctor, priest, and other professions. The children’s imaginations think of the possibilities for their own lives; and they are given permission to think big thoughts.
Imagination is just as good for adults. After all, inventions begin in the mind and imagination of the inventor. Some even get carried away with future possibilities as in creating a driver-less automobile. And on a serious note, military strategies include imaginative possibilities to accomplish a goal. The Allied Forces in World War II, for example, had to figure out how to invade France successfully on D-Day, June 6, 1944, to push back the Nazi takeover of Europe. Their creative thinking included new inventions which brought them success on the shores of Normandy, but at great cost.
Our spiritual lives respond to imagination allowing our thoughts to see unseen possibilities come true. What is God like, for example? Even though we can’t see God to get a description, the spiritual dimension of our lives comes to consciousness through imagination; and what we experience is a reality greater than anything we can touch. It is a holy presence; or as the poet John Keats (1795-1821) describes it: “The holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination.” “The simple imaginative mind may have its rewards in the repetition of its own silent working coming continually on the Spirit with a fine suddenness.” Beauty itself becomes a reality when the imagination discovers it to be so.
We learn from text books, experience, and from imagination that projects future possibilities – justice, kindness, gentleness, food for all, compassion, and peace. Some have even risked their lives to make these hopes realities. Jesus imagined a world where God’s kingdom would be discovered within each person. His imagination projected the image of God. In Jesus this reality was seen and is a continuing possibility for each of us to embrace.