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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Faith and Imagination

Imagine a far off place, over the rainbow.  What's your over-the-rainbow world?  Is it a simpler time?  Is it a place without want or suffering?  Is it a world of magic and epic adventure?  Is it heaven?  Being in that place would be the best!

  Yearning for that world puts us in touch with our deepest need and our hope.  That yearning can act as an internal compass, directing us toward all that is energized and purposeful, all that is free and loved.

Then consider how good it is to taste a real hot dog (or an August tomato or fresh-baked bread.)  Your fascination with yearned-for worlds dims a little as you come to realize that we make paradise out of our own tangible lives...if we take that chance.  It is taking a chance because life doesn’t always turn out to be a paradise.  But life teaches us that there is power and beauty in the real.  As we learn to see the power and the beauty in that which we can touch, we are invited to reflect in wonder about that power and beauty.  An unexpected thing happens.  We learn that we are creators of those moments of beauty.  What I mean is that the beauty and power of earthly things can surprise us.  And if we learn the art of being surprised, learn what it is about these surprising, wonderful things that is lovable and beautiful, then we come to realize that we are agents of that beauty.  

“If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  This riddle is easy to answer after some study.  After all, sound is a physical property of our reality.  But how about this?  If a rose blooms in a field and no one ever comes to see it, is it beautiful?  Let me make this suggestion.  When you look at the rose and discover that it is beautiful, something unique and transcendent is created.  Meaning is created.  We are co-creators of beauty, of power, and of meaning.  Furthermore, the more we love this world, the more our capacity for loving this world deepens. 

And then something odder still happens.  We come to realize that there is something about this ability of ours to see that which is lovable and true in the midst of this world that has opened us to that which is lovable and true in the unseen world.  Yes.  You become capable of seeing Jesus as your companion.  You become capable of hearing what God is speaking.  You open to that which is unprovable, invisible, and easily shown to be a crock.  You become able to make meaning out of the presence of God.