Some there are who say that God is but a figment of our human imagination. It is not God who created humankind, but rather it is humankind that has created God. From whence then, did this wonderful gift of imagination come from? Howard Thurman tells of a young sociologist who gave a lecture on “The Philosophy of a Fool.” He ended the first part of his address with these words: “On the seventh day, therefore, God could not rest. In the morning and the evening God busied himself with terrible and beautiful concoctions and in the twilight of the seventh day God finished that which is of more import than the beasts of the earth and the fish of the sea and the lights of the firmament. And God called it Imagination because it was made in His own image; and those unto whom it is given shall see God.” “Imagination,” Thurman writes, “is the angelos of God.”
When my granddaughter, Eleni, was visiting with us last year she said a most beautiful thing. She said she loved to visit Grandad’s house because it “had imagination.” Now I don’t know exactly what Eleni meant in saying that—I’ll leave that to her imagination—but her words struck a deep place within me.
Imagination is a great gift. It enables the artist to see beyond what is and to create that beyond on canvas. It provides the child with the wonderful capacity to experience make-believe Narnia-type worlds. It gives us the gift of memory. Without imagination we would not dream, or create, or hope. Without imagination we could never love, because love is the ability to put (imagine) oneself in the life of another and to look at life through the other’s eyes, to feel and think and react to the other, even as one remains oneself.
Without Imagination, the angelos of God, we would only be our puny little self. There would be no hope for anything beyond. Just myself and myself alone, knowing that without imagination, nothing could ever happen that would go beyond my present little me. Open the gift, “for those unto whom it is given shall see God.”