Imagination is a wonderful, healing, redeeming, strengthening, transformative thing.
I spend a lot of my time in this act, this work, this calling – the privilege of imagining. How lucky am I?
The stories I tell, the stories I love, are filled with imagination. It’s true! Even the stories of women in Scripture. Oh! Wait! Had you heard something else? Like they are actually carved in stone? Oh, well there’s (at least part of ) the problem! They’re not! Like any story, they are fluid, ever-changing, moving, shape-shifting, and offering meaning to their hearer through the lens of their teller.
First told ’round camp fires and in caves, the oral tradition carried their truth through the generations. Later, carved in stone (OK. I admit it: this part is true), then written on scrolls, then translated and transcribed (and imagined) again and again. Printed. Organized. Argued and fought over. And translated even more. Even still, their significance survives: in art, in poetry, in prose, in song. Ancient, sacred stories infused with imagination.
Though many have walked away (if not run screaming into the dark) because of the ways in which these stories have become doctrine have become dogma have become dogmatism, I am not willing to do so.
Because they were reimagined and retold again and again, in ever- changing ways, I can do the same. I get to do the same.
I began to figure this out while in Seminary – not the most common place in which one uses imagination. As part of my M.Div. degree I was required to take a year of Hebrew and another of Greek. I don’t remember a bit of either, but I will never forget what I learned through them: this whole translation thing is SUPER subjective. Always has been. Always will be. And if that’s true (which it is), then I can translate and imagine and tell the stories just as well as the other guys (which yes, most of the time, have been and still are guys).
My imagination. My perspective. My telling.
When I imagine to my heart’s content, I am the one who is healed, redeemed, strengthened, and transformed.
Oh, the stories I could tell you of this; the myriad of ways in which these stories (and the women within them) have changed my life. But we’d be here for days…
“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll
You may find it impossible to believe that the stories of women in Scripture could possibly still speak; more, could possibly speak to you (without the doctrine or dogma or dogmatism). I get that.
“Impossible!” you say. And, like the Queen, it is my honor to continually invite you to a world of imagination, maybe even belief, and most definitely hope. Maybe not before breakfast, but hey, I’m always up for a good challenge!
My hope(s) and endless imaginings for you?
- That you would come to not just imagine, but know and believe that there are stories that long to be heard and known and experienced by you that will touch and embolden your heart.
- That you would not just imagine, but know and believe that you are not alone; even more, realize that you are surrounded by an entire chorus of your matrilineage.
- That you would not just imagine, but know and believe that your story matters.
May it be so.