Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We were warriors, once

We were warriors, once. Princes on valiant steeds, soldiers marching forth to war, cavalry dashing to the rescue, martial masters with a noble call. Gallant knights and heroic princesses joining hands to save the day, evil defeating at every turn. Kingdoms lost and won, desperate battles and life-threatening escapades, fantastical romances. Sometimes we died and were resurrected by the power of love. Sometimes we simply died, casualties of the war against enemies, against sickness, against whatever foe confronted us in that dire hour.

We were children, then.

Imagination came easily to us in our youth. It was no difficulty to believe that we were those people. That our adventures were not real meant nothing: it was no hindrance to us, no stumbling block to our joyous embrace of imagined destiny. Our minds, loosed of the bonds of the mundane, were free to conjure whatever world, whatever adventure, whatever fate we desired. We could as readily be Jedi as cowboys, princes as paupers, soldiers as fathers, futuristic explorers as ancient heroes. That we were in the back yard of a house or on bicycles in the street or anywhere ordinary meant nothing: in our minds, we were wherever and whenever our imaginations had taken us.

We are children no more. No longer do we soar through the sky on airplanes consisting of cardboard boxes and paint; no longer do we slay dragons with sticks or destroy enemy spaceships with lasers made of broom handles; no longer do we wed royalty in elaborate ceremonies that change the course of nations.

Those things are not real, and what is real overwhelms that which is not. We can no longer dissociate ourselves so thoroughly from reality: it ever crashes in against our consciousness. Should we attempt to imagine again in the way that we did as a child, it would fail: for we would be continually reminding ourselves of the ridiculousness of our actions, confronting ourselves with the absurdity of our imaginings, and condemning ourselves with the impossibility of that which we imagine.

Yet I sometimes wonder if perhaps we saw more truly in those moments of imagination that we do now in our mature understandings and penetrating analyses. I wonder if Christ did not call us to childlike faith for precisely this reason: that children believe without regard to possibility. As adults, we do not. We see the world in terms of what is possible with the variables at hand. We assume a closed system. Our imaginations no longer excel the real: we are trapped in the comprehensible and that which can be viewed. We have no conviction of that which is unseen.

We no longer conceive of the world as one of possibilities and open windows, but as one of impossibilities and closed doors. We think not of what can be, but of what cannot. We understand our limitations, but our understanding is limited for it converges to those limitations, forgetting that God is not limited. When the sum of our comprehension is of what cannot be, when our imagination is constrained to what is possible, it has ceased to be imagination and has become simply hyptothesization.

And faith can never be born of hypothesis: for it confesses a priori its reliance on a Being unbounded by the constraints of our reality and existence. We confess with our mouths that God can do anything, but we often believe otherwise, for we no longer imagine His doing the impossible.

We need a childlike faith: one that is supremely confident in what God will do because it knows no bounds of what God can do.

We do not have that kind of faith anymore -

but we were warriors, once.


  1. Wow. What you wrote resonates so much in me. I guess that is what draws to me write, though I have yet to fully appropriate it. I long to freely allow myself to imagine, to let the thoughts run where they will without the hindrance of "reality" which has a way of crashing uninvited into our party. I think the Lord gave us imaginations because they give us a glimpse of how great He is.

    Love you!

  2. This is powerful, Chris.

    I especially like this; how true it is:

    "we are trapped in the comprehensible and that which can be viewed."

  3. I can vaguely recall having that kind of imagination once - "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." before those words came to have their own life on a huge theater screen - when I was young.

    It is sad that we lose that as we "mature."

    Love ya.


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