“He (Jesus) even told us that we had to be like little children ourselves if we wanted to understand God, and yet the world (and too often the church) taught then, and still teaches, that we have to outgrow our childhood love of story, of imagination, of creativity, of fun, and so we blunder into the grown-up world of literalism.” Madeleine L’Engle
But aren’t children the greatest literalists in the world? I wish I could ask Madeleine that. If you tell a child something, don’t they take you quite literally? One thing about what is literally true to a child, is that the line between reality and make-believe is very ambiguous.
I remember playing “farm” with my two best childhood friends. For some reason, I got it in my head that we might buy my great grandparent’s farm in Nebraska. I’d never even been there, but my mother had told me much about it, and we had a few old black and white photos of a grand farmhouse. My guess is that they had recently passed away and my mother sighed out loud that she wished she could buy that farm because it had so many precious memories for her. From that statement of yearning, I decided that we were very probably buying that farm.
So, I rounded up anyone who would play with me and we pretended we were on my great grandparent’s farm. I still remember the rooms I imagined and the grove of pine trees I “sat” under even though there wasn’t a pine tree in sight.
I suppose in that way, we, as children have given up our “love of story, of imagination, of creativity, of fun” and have blundered “into the grown-up world of literalism.” We think that those times of “make-believe” weren’t real. But what are we really saying when we say “make-believe”? Are we saying that we pretend and imagine to the point where we make ourselves believe something is there when it is not? And if so, isn’t that a type of faith? A kind of calling things that are not as though they were? (Romans 4:17)
Maybe if we imagined and played “make-believe” about the things we have been promised by our Maker, we would be having faith like a child and would see more things happen in our lives.
I am not suggesting that we live in denial. After all, was it denial for me to imagine and “make-believe” that I was on my great grandparent’s farm when I was really standing on the tiny plot of land in front of our Chicago bungalow? Of course not! As soon as my mother called me in to eat, I was in Oak Park, Illinois again. I would gobble down her lovely lunch and run outside to make a mud pie for all the field workers.
So, which was more “real”? You tell me.
Linking with the lovely Jen: