We had breakfast with some new Peterborough friends this week. We met at a Poetry Slam and got talking and laughing and found we had lots in common. Except for one thing. We are “church people” and they are not. They are musicians, among other things, so they came out to church one morning to check out our “gig”.
At breakfast we got talking about Imagination and Intuition. She told stories of using song lyrics to get school drop-out students to start writing about soul matters. He told us stories of relying on intuition to let business deals emerge from the midst of problems. Instead of rushing in with brainy solutions, he’d keep people talking, keep them relaxed, and let imagination work its way up from their midst. The outcome, he described, was always something he’d never have come up with on his own. It would emerge from the ether.
As artists they could also relate to the experience of inspiration. How a tune, a lyric, a character, a plot, or an image can emerge from that “somewhere else” source. Most artists – the ones whose egos don’t get in way - will give credit for their best ideas to the “wherever it comes from”.
More and more I find that I’m using the word Imagination interchangeably with the word Spirit. It’s not just that God gives us the gift of imagination. But that God is Imagination.
Let’s turn around and reclaim our “imaginary God”. It’s not that God comes from our imaginations, but that we come from God’s. Genesis says that we are made, male and female, in the “image” of God. That image is imagination. It is when we are in touch with the flow of creativity, the stirring of visions, the expressing the images in word, canvas and dance that we participate in the divine identity.
This is hardly an original idea. But like the best of all ideas – it comes out of that vast deep underworld, underwater, ancient and ever-renewing source. The more we tap into it. The more we experience it. The more we learn to trust in it’s leadings.
“All dreams come from God.” I was taught. It’s just another way of saying when we turn off our rational, thinking, monkey-minded processing machine we call the brain, God takes over. We are fed otherworldly images, scenarios – silly, frightening, funny and profound – that speak to our flat-footed days if we have the ears and imaginations to listen. All humans dream - but who listens to what God's saying?
I once had an interview with a Neuroscientist. He sat with us to explain that our son’s Down Syndrome brain would be smaller and less capable than normal. I asked how that would affect his Imagination? This brain surgeon looked at me with a puzzled expression and said “I’ve never thought about that.”
Do our Church’s brain surgeons ever wonder about the power of imagination? As our church’s shrink and shrivel. As our capacities to solve problems and muscle our way into making the world a better place diminish – are we trying to think too hard?
One of the reasons we don’t find a lot of artists in church is that they’re not real big on fitting into boxes. Anything with a label on it is suspect. Calling themselves a Christian, let alone a Baptist, Catholic, or Progressive is just another way of limiting imagination.
But that’s how we organize ourselves we say. How else could we work? How else would we know who we are and who we’re not?
Good question. Maybe we could use a little imagination? Instead of praying what we think – how about playing with that divine source of ideas? Instead of making slightly bigger boxes for that un-nameable source of joy, why not free the slaves of conformity and paint a picture big enough for the world in a nutshell?
As my new friend wrote “Curiosity killed the Cat-holic in me”.
Good thing cats have nine lives. To all you cats out there who care, who are open to Spirit and creating new possibilities every day…I say…stay curious, stay loose, laugh, and let the spirit do what it does – create and re-create.
Jesus was the Master in the art of making community. He never stuck a label on it. It was Paul who set up the art school. It was Rome who branded it, franchised it, and put it in the hands of Neurosurgeon Priests who made it into a global corporation.
When the church kills off your best ideas, throw them seventeen more. Make those brain surgeons looking for solutions in our best practices and bank accounts wonder why you’re dancing while the world is burning.
It’s when we wonder, stop counting the stars and listen to their song in the dark silence between, that we begin to sing along with the angels. We let ego fall to the ground like leaves fertilizing next years new ideas. We know beyond reckoning that there’s no end to the muse that makes humans divine. The kindom of the storyteller is here already. It’s just waiting for you to express it in your own special way. The world’s your stage. Go play.
thanks to the Naked Pastor for the cartoon