Our 2 (almost 3) year old god-daughter is fully immersed in imaginative play. Last Monday we had pasta for lunch with Bear and Batman. We have fed the dinosaurs noodles and raisins from our car window and recently, we have been having some great conversations with Spider (although being an arachnophobe I jump each time she “sees” spider). We love experiencing the world through her eyes, so much possibility, so full of hope and wonder and simply pure joy!
Just the other day I was having a conversation with dear friends about the importance of imagination, specifically for children. We spoke of how screen time is drastically diminishing a child’s ability to be imaginative as well as jam-packed schedules with little to no downtime to just play, and how fearing the phrase “I’m bored” from the mouth of a child can impede opportunities for creativity.
We know that in children, cognitive development includes critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving abilities, and much, if not all of this comes through imagination found in play. Playing dress up or playing with art materials like crayons and paint and play dough, exploring in creation noticing bugs and birds and leaves, watching the rain fall and sharing lunch with Batman and Bear nurtures a child’s imagination.
Imagination enables us to ponder life’s big questions, opening our minds to new things and creates curiosity for learning. As Albert Einstein once said, Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
I love children’s books as I believe they have a message for every age. Imagine a Place a book with words by Sarah L. Thomson and incredible paintings by Rob Gonsalves encourages us all to embrace imagination. I particularly love two of the pages one with the words “imagine a place . . . where your mind opens wider than any walls around you” and “imagine a place . . . where your ship holds all you once knew and the horizon offers all you will ever need.”
We know imagination is also important for adults. I came across an article by Lamisha Serf-Walls who gave 5 reasons Imagination is more Important than Reality:
- Imagination ignites passion. Dreaming of what can allow us to tap into our imaginations again. Somewhere along the lines we have lost that connection to passion and purpose in life and replaced it with survival and responsibility. Who says you can’t be passionate and responsible?
- Our imagination and thoughts create our future. When we stay immersed in what is directly in front of us at all times we can continually create the same challenges over and over again. But, when we venture into our imagination to focus on the reality that we want to experience, the energy is set in motion and some magnificent change can occur.
- Imagination stimulates creativity and innovation. Imagination is one of the key ingredients to expansion and the advancement of our world.
- Imagination is magical. Taking a moment to view the world through a child’s eyes is enough to bring the joy and wonder that imagination brings.
- Sometimes reality just sucks. Watching the news, hearing about the violence and sadness in our world is overwhelming. Choosing to use our imaginative muscle as a means of creation provides hope. And where there is hope there is ultimately an opportunity for transformation and change.
The one known as the Light of the World, the one who turned the world upside down with the way he lived love and hope, encourages us to imagine. Jesus was all about hope and transformation, he told stories encouraging the people to imagine a world where God’s love reigned. Jesus’ parables are precious. In Godly Play the parable stories are kept in gold painted boxes because “parables are valuable, maybe even more valuable than gold.. . . the box looks like a present. Parables are presents. They were given to you before you were born.”
Jesus invites us into the parables to encounter and imagine a way of living and being. We enter with wonder into the story and we are awoken to possibilities that make us question our view of everyday life, questioning the order imposed by tradition, power, culture or class. We come away from the story with a new vision of what might be . . . and, we are called to live it out.
So may we imagine deeply, listen carefully and in so doing come in touch with God’s kingdom.
With hope, Jen