“I also am other than what I imagine myself to be.
To know this is forgiveness.”
~ Simone Weil
Imagination. It's something I had in abundance as a kid. I lived my daily life in a continually unfolding, adventurous drama - a screenplay in my mind - where I was the writer, producer, director and lead actress. A touch of childish narcissism, yes, but also the heart of a compassionate girl who dreamed of doing something special, something brave and meaningful, with her life. I didn't know what that would be, so I created scenarios in my imagination and I acted them out, hoping someday I would find my way into a real life adventure.
It's sad how often "growing up" means you have the imagination sucked right out of you. Idealism is traded in for realism, dreams for practicality, and imagination for intellectualism. The imaginative ones are relegated to professions we deem as the Arts, to social or business entrepreneurs, to the few in the public eye whom we admire as visionary leaders in some specific realm. We check our imagination at the door and let others do the creative thinking.
I do see imagination making a fair comeback in my generation and the ones behind me. I see young people seeking creative solutions to the unique dilemmas our world faces today. I see kids and young adults less satisfied with the status quo, wanting to be part of a story bigger than themselves, daring to dream bigger. And inwardly, I cheer.
I even see little seedlings of imagination sprouting up in the field of the Church. They may not be prevalent yet, but they are there, quietly spreading in beautiful splendor. In my imagination, I see a Church who has broken off from other lovers and is committed to Jesus with a steady, lovesick devotion. I see a Church whose heart is tender in compassion and gentleness, fierce in love and purity, gracious and humble within and outside the walls of church buildings. I see a Church who can place their fingers on the pulse of the culture, connecting with the life of the world around them, while themselves emanating back the heartbeat of Christ. I see a Church who cares more about the poor and unpopular and offensive and marginalized than they do about buildings and programs and projects and positions and church services. I see a Church who is outrageously generous, content with much and content with little, sharing whatever they have with anyone in need.
I see a Church who actually believes they are who Jesus says they are and who live from that place of revelation and freedom. I see a Church who lives and loves with extravagant sacrifice. I see a Church who is honest and real about their imperfections, not seeking to cover their flaws with superficiality or pride, letting people see them as works in progress. I see a Church who is known, not for what they stand against, but for who and how they love. I see a Church who is not afraid to be uncool, who stand faithfully and intelligently on the truth of God's word, who know how to communicate this truth undefensively, with actions more than words, but with words when necessary. I see a Church with people of all colors, shapes and sizes, living in unity and community, not always uniformity. I see a Church that has possessed a vision of the kingdom of heaven and lives with this vision in their hearts at all times.
Yes, in my imagination, I see all this. In my heart, I yearn for it. In my experience, sometimes, I taste it. But there is more, much more. We may not be there yet, but must not lose our imagination. To lose our imagination is to perish, and the world needs for us to be fully alive.