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Order Through Imagination

I want to have written the story that changes peoples’ lives, not write it!

Oh, it’s not about the fame and fortune, nor about the accolades and acclaim. I just want people to read what I write and see themselves in it, only better. I want them to see their family members in a new light or their lives go in a new direction, their circumstances navigable and what now seems impossible, possible.

The problem is, writing it always comes before having written it and, very truly I tell you, what comes before all of that is living it. This is the problem with writing from imagination, it’s real. And finding the truth there is hard. But it is the magic of letting one’s mind wander to far off places, filled with random characters and creatures. Except it’s not random at all. It’s ordered.

That’s the paradox of imagination: we restore order through imagination. We put things to rest, explain the confounding and often re-write the ending we wished for but that never came to be. So much comfort.

But is that fantasy? Is it escapism? Are we avoiding the truth?

Mary Poppins and childrenI don’t think so. In fact, it may be the best way to approach the truth. First, with beauty and aesthetics, re-creating the real draws us in and makes us smile. How brave is that boy! How insightful is that girl. How ingenious is that Nanny. Oh, and so fun! Yep, Mary Poppins it is, and how delightful is that “Disney ending.”

But life doesn’t consist of Disney endings. Get real!

What if the real requires imagining? Consider,

I believe our task is to develop a moral and aesthetic imagination deep enough and wide enough to encompass the contradictions of our time and history, the tremendous loss and tragedy as well as greatness and nobility, an imagination capable of recognizing that where there is light there is shadow, that out of hubris and fall can come moral regeneration, out of suffering and death, resurrection and rebirth. 

Not just an aesthetic imagination but a moral one? With the one we create what might be. With the other, we consider what God might have meant. Put the two together, and it has the power to change lives.

I want to have written the story that changes people’s lives, but that one’s taken. Now, to consider what God might have meant.

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Where in Carnation is Christmas?

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the land the kids were glad to sleep in and the parents to sip their morning coffee and peruse the headlines.

I’m always a bit melancholy on the day after Christmas. And that’s the way with anticipation fulfilled, right? Once you have it, what do you do with it?

I wrote one lone line in my journal:

Was Christ’s incarnation really incarceration?

I mean, how must it feel to leave the glory of heaven for a confinement like earth? Even if you’re Lord of the universe? Then I read the inward-outward that came in my inbox. It began: “The incarnation is the irruption of God into human history.”

Now in my surly frame of mind I thought Irruption! don’t they know how to spell eruption? So, my friend Wikipedia set me straight. “irruption” means breaking in. “eruption” means breaking out.

It was not a misspelling. It was an epiphany. Christ did not break out; He broke in. It was not a spilling or a vomiting or a tossing away from heaven. It was a premeditated, loving, swan (or dove) dive into earthen time. Into human time. For all time.

Well, now that Wikipedia and I were getting cozy I asked about “carnation.” What was it that Christ came “in” to? It turns out the carnation is:

“a species of Dianthus (from the Greek for heavenly flower) probably native to the Mediterranean region, but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years.”

Imagine that. A heavenly flower birthed into time somewhere in the Mediterranean region, but so spread in 2000 years it’s hard to trace its origin. Hmm. Even my day after Christmas self had to pause at that. And, as the time for my Advent candle devotions had been fulfilled, I stood to blow out

Hope

Peace

Joy

Love

Wouldn’t you know that the candle of hope had already gone out? It couldn’t have lasted one more day. Really?

Well, no. Advent had not snuffed out hope but Christmas had happened. The in-Carnation had happened. Hope entered time as peace, joy and love.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

Twas the day after Christmas and God said, “You take it from here.”

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