Change is what happens to us – whether we like it or not.
Transformation is a choice. Will we resist change – reacting with ever more defensive strategies to keep us safe? Or, will we engage in the change? Journey into the Maker’s Divine Imagination to realize the gift of life – in all it’s fullness, wonder, and power?
The short squat man in a poncho and wide brimmed hat is happy to see me – he’s been expecting me for some time now. He steps back with one foot, and with a dramatic bow and sweep of his hand, welcomes me into the cave.
In the cave there are four rooms.
Entering the first room I encounter a small boy in rags, lying helpless on a hard and dirty cot. Seeing me, he reaches out with both hands and wide begging eyes – beseeching me to come to his comfort. I want to but my feet are like lead. I find that I can only back away. It tears at my heart but I back my way out of the room and shut the door – promising the boy that I will return.
The next room is dark. Only smoky candles give it light. As my eyes adjust, I can barely make out that the room is lined floor to ceiling with shelves holding great volumes of large and heavy books. In fact, i can’t even make out the ceiling. As I look up the shelves seem to rise endlessly into the smoky dark.
In the centre of the room is one such great book on a stand. A single large candle gives it light. I take a step closer and see that the book is opened to an early page. With another step I see the page holds a single short paragraph and…I recognize my own scrawled signature. It’s the signature I used when the teacher’s taught pen was just becoming my own hand.
The sound of feet shuffling startles me before I can read what the page holds. I become aware of a figure standing just beyond the candle’s circle of light. It’s not someone I’m prepared to meet and I retreat from the room with quickened heart.
In the third room I encounter another small boy. This child is bright and cheerful and brimming with life. In the room, filled with gifts of all kinds, he goes from one activity to the next like a river tumbling over rocks. He laughs and sings and dances and makes poems from every new thing. He is a prince and a pirate, Native in the jungle, fish in the water, bird in the sky. He is without limits.
He finds a gift that seems just right. Steps from his stream of play and is intent on this one wonderful activity. Balsa wood airplanes. Two pieces – body and wing. Elegant simple design. By adjusting the wing in the body’s slot forward or back, he can affect the flight’s path. By throwing soft or strong, he gets a different flight every time. The plane swoops and curves, glides and is caught in the wind. His supply of planes is endless and the play is effortless and delights him.
A plane lands at my feet. I pick it up and ask it “You can carry the play of a child, but how can you carry my weight?”
The plane answers “One ounce at a time. One throw at a time.” With a laugh it adds “It’ll take a lot of throws – you’re pretty heavy man.”
In the fourth room I walk out into the edge of a forest. Mountains rise up behind the trees, clouds watch from a sunny sky. I am met by a long necked creature. It takes a moment before I recognize it as a giraffe. My old friend - Jerome the Giraffe - is here to guide me. He’s got a Hawk – who I’ve never met but seen so often - perched on his back, poised, waiting.
I ask Jerome “With your long, wide vision, where am I going?” and he answers gently “Well, in all directions at once. Like a happy little boy you will dance and play at all things you come across. Don’t worry where it’ll take you.”
Not entirely satisfied with that answer, I ask the Hawk “You can see far off into the distance. As far as you can see – is there one thing of value that I will give this world and leave for my children?” The Hawk already knows the answer “Your imagination. You will express a wide and wonderful view of life in a thousand ways. The one thing that will be clear from all your throws of the plane – is the power of imagination.”
I’m ready to return to the room with the book. I can see now that this book belongs to ol’ Nick himself. He made me a deal that as an adolescent - I thought was best. He tricked me into thinking that I could exchange my heart for my head and give the keeping of that tear-stained little boy into his hands. In exchange, the man I was becoming would be safe and strong, clothed and fed. No tears would shame him again. I’d done the deal, signed the contract with my child-man’s scrawl, and hid the memory deep in forgotten folds.
The Devil’s laughing at me now - but his eyes are wide and watching. He can see something’s changed.
I reach out quick and tear the page from his book. Before he can say diddly, I put the page into the candle’s flame.
“Hey! That’s our deal?” he cries - indignant in his lawyer’s black gown.
“This is the new deal” I tell him “I’ve taken full responsibility for the boy. I’ll feed him and keep him. I take up the pen, flip the pages of the book until I find a new blank page and I sign that neglected child out from the Devil’s keep.
As I put my signature down, lift the pen and look up - the room where the boy was kept flashes bright – and like that page in the candle flame – disappears in smoke.
I leave the Devil to his book, collect the bright eyed boy, and together we skip into the forest with Jerome and Harold the Hawk with great kicking leaps that lift us from the earth so high and long that… with the next one… we might just take flight.