For The Someday Book

Posts Tagged ‘imagination

B received a set of two adorable pajamas from a great-aunt a few weeks ago. They are made to look like the costumes from Woody and Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies. The shirts have the emblem that makes it look just like you are Woody or Buzz. I thought this was pretty nifty, and B could wear them and pretend to be a cowboy or a space guy.

He wants to wear them. Really, he does. But he is terrified. He still thinks the movies are a little bit scary, and he believes that wearing the costume/pajamas will cause the events of the movie to happen to him. If he dresses like Woody and Buzz, the bad guys will show up and haul him off somewhere. The very idea of putting on the pajamas puts him in anticipatory tears.

Don’t get me wrong—we are not forcing these pajamas on him. We talk about them every now and then, and ask if he wants to wear them. He always says yes. Then, as bedtime nears, tears explode. It takes a few minutes, but eventually he confesses he just doesn’t want to wear the Toy Story jammies. We reassure him that he does not have to wear them if he doesn’t want to, and remind him that there is nothing to be afraid of, that nothing bad will happen just because you wear a costume.

Watching the trauma over the last few weeks, I find myself awakened to the color and depth of his imagination. When he pretends to be someone else, when he plays at cowboy or astronaut or mother or baby or firefighter or race car driver, he becomes that person in his own mind. The sharp edges of logic and rationality have not yet hardened into points, cutting the painful gash between imagination and reality. (For a word about where B does get clear about real vs. pretend, read here.)

In my spiritual life, I find myself always trying to soften the jagged edges of reality, to enter the space between “real” and “pretend.” As Walter Brueggemann reminds us, biblical, prophetic faith is the product of a vibrant imagination. We must visualize the world to be as God’s prophets describe it, imagine ourselves into building that world, connect creatively to the stories and people of the scriptures. It is in that imaginative space that God meets us, to heal and challenge and renew.

Dwelling in imaginative space is risky. Like B, we can start to fear that the traumas of the characters will happen to us as well. We might be assaulted, challenged, changed, even crucified. Our world might be turned upside down forever. Putting on the Christian clothes might just make us into one—and the risk of wearing Christ, imagining a new world, pretending our way into it, frightens us. How often in my life of faith have I resisted the new clothes of Christ, bursting into fearful tears and burying the possibility in a drawer?

Our local zoo has a new dinosaur exhibit that B saw for the first time last weekend. It has awakened a whole new fascination with him.

This morning on the way to preschool, he told me that he wanted to go with J to see the dinosaurs again, since J was not with us when we saw them last weekend. He described which dinosaurs he wanted to show them, complete with arms outstretched to show just how big the Tyrannosaurus Rex is. Then he put me in my place.

B: I’m just going to go with Daddy, not with you. Only me and Daddy.

Me: Well, what if I want to come? Can I come too?

(long, thoughtful pause)

B: Hmmm. Okay. You can drive your car, but I’m riding with Daddy in his car.

I guess it’s time for some father-son bonding with the giant reptiles.

As we continued the last few  blocks toward preschool, B began to describe a dinosaur movie. He told me in great detail about the time when the T-rex with the big teeth walked up to the Triceratops with three horns. The Triceratops said hello to the T-rex, but the T-rex just ate the Triceratops all up.

This was a little bit gruesome for B, so I really began to wonder about this dinosaur movie. I know that I have never shown him a dinosaur movie, not even a television show. So I inquired.

Me: That sounds like it would be a pretty scary movie.

B: Yeah, it’s a movie for adults. It’s not for kids. It’s to scary for kids when the dinosaur eats the other dinosaur.

Me: So, where did you see this dinosaur movie for adults?

B: Oh, I just made it up. Just right now, I made it up.

Okay, Steven Spielberg, keep it rated G until at least your 5th birthday.


About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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