Note: We like to occasionally do a guest post here in our column, usually by one of our children. Our quasi son-in-law Adam Timothy (married to our semi-adopted Bulgarian daughter Eva Timothy) is a wonderful writer and great friend who reminds us today of the power and importance of imagination, both in our children and in ourselves. You will enjoy his reference to C.S. Lewis and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Here is his article:
When I got into reading as a kid, there was little distinction between fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and history. There were just engaging books you read cover to cover and less-interesting ones you didn't.
I remember stories of giant lizards, super-giant stars and a child stowaway who became a famous conquistador by the name of Balboa. Another favorite was about some children who became kings and queens after stowing away through an old wardrobe.
Living in the Mountain West, there was an unfortunate shortage of vessels heading for the unexplored reaches of the New World at the time. We didn't properly have a wardrobe either, but my parents had a walk-in closet that was made to suffice.
I remember vividly, wandering into that closet, pushing my way through racks of clothes and feeling ever so slowly in the dark toward back of the closet, eager with anticipation that this time, instead of a wall, I would find a snowpacked forest and a rather out-of-place lantern.
I am most sorry to relate, but as often as I tried and no matter how faithfully I placed my disbelief into a state of solid suspension, my hand would invariably find a solid surface behind those many outfits.
Time has passed and I am now what my storybooks would call (through gritted teeth) a "grown-up."
I've learned how a gentleman, by the name of Dewey, came up with an ingenious system to prevent literary wanderers like myself from mixing up their facts from their fairy tales.
I've learned also about important sounding words like responsibility, productivity, logic and efficiency.
I know how to balance a budget, keep a schedule and win bread enough to feed a family.
As priorities and perspectives have shifted, I've often wondered what role, if any, the imagination, that so vividly defined my childhood, might still play all these years later.
True, my reaching fingers may never have made it beyond the closet wall, but my imagination most certainly did, and there's something to that.
Imagination, I've discovered, is not the opposite of reality. Nor is it merely an escape from the real world.
While different than our physical senses, wonder and imagination allow us to sense, feel and explore things beyond what is here and now, yet no less real than the tangible world.
For instance, according to Albert Einstein, gravity cannot be held responsible when people fall in love.
Imagination, on the other hand, bears a great deal of responsibility.
Indeed it is capable of transforming our perspectives, particularly of those we love, to see far beyond the brutal realities of imperfection to a person of incredible light, goodness and potential.
While it requires very little imagination to see my own wife as an angel and the light of my life, yet even my teenage children become cherubim when I tug on the strings of memories past and the chords of music yet to be written in their lives.
Imagination is also the spark to every creative/uncertain endeavor we personally undertake from artist to athlete to entrepreneur.
We picture ourselves as something different or more than we now are and then reach and learn our way towards it.
Watch anyone in pursuit of a dream and you will see imagination at work, filled with fuzzy edges and unproven ideas, yet packed with passion and deep undeterred learning and seeking towards mastery.
Imagination is also fundamental to making meaning of the most poignant parts of my life.
My faith and my perspective of a grander picture extend beyond anything I can define with my physical senses.
As I cannot see God, nor prove him to another, I must rely on this sense of wonder to open mind, heart and soul, creating a picture of this unseen power as it unfolds in my life.
In many ways it is not unlike the geologist who, gathering artifacts at hand, makes then a tremendous leap of imagination to create a story of the billions of years which he was not privy to witness.
Even so as I trace the moments of awe, insight and awareness, of loss and redemption, of compassion and creation, patterns emerge from my life revealing the hand of a master planner, creator and father.
You might not publish it in a scientific journal. Just the same, imagination allows me to pull these many threads together in a tapestry of belief, wonder and gratitude that, while remaining unseen, is nonetheless the foundation for so much of life.
All in all, I have much to thank for that walk through the wardrobe all those years ago and for the many journeys since that have endowed the reality of life with a richness and harmony that, had I not experienced it firsthand, would have been hard to imagine.