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Story Time

"Most people want to wake up in the morning with a general at the foot of their bed saying 'Go do this.' The problem is there's somebody at the foot of their bed saying, 'Once upon a time.'"
N.T. Wright

A long time ago, in a theater far, far away, Katy and I stood in line waiting to see the original Star Wars movie. A young boy was acting out a space-chase scene a little too energetically, when his parents demanded that he cool his jets. He fired back, "This is Star Wars, man! Get your imagination going!"

For some reason, the phrase stuck, and made its way into many of our family conversations, substituting whatever the event of the moment is for "Star Wars."

"This is a snow day, man! Get your imagination going!"

Imagination, at least for grown-ups, takes prodding, nurturing, permission to enter our to-do list lives. But it takes even more than that to enter our spiritual lives. Even the phrase "Once upon a time" sounds doctrinally scandalous. We're comfortable when it's applied to fiction or myth, but not to history, and certainly not to Scripture. But what if it is applied to the today?

Maybe I've gotten my days and nights mixed up. Last thing at night is when I finally stop to think, to read, to listen, to write, without the demands of the day interrupting. Sometimes I even take time to imagine. I wouldn't trade this time for anything, but the trouble is that the day is over.

When tomorrow starts, it masquerades as already full. Plans, obligations, deadlines—or even fun, family, and friends. But still full. No space for the unknown, untried, or unsung. No permission to explore, experiment, or examine more closely what seemed like God's still, small voice the night before.

Maybe it's the past and the future I've gotten mixed up. The past is written, published, and archived, and that's good. I can build on it. I can learn from it. But the future is empty. Empty in the good sense, like when the house you want to buy is vacant, or your favorite chair at Starbucks is unoccupied.

The future is available, spacious, inviting, alluring. Yours. There is nothing more irrevocable than the past, and nothing more evocative than the future.

This is life, man. Get your imagination going.

December 6, 2004 | Permalink


Amen Doug! What is life without a little imagination? My father always makes fun of me because I'm the "dreamer" in the family, I don't want to stop though! I love to dream and I love to imagine.

Posted by: Lydia on Dec 11, 2004 6:20:28 PM

Imagination is one of those things which people consider foolish. But when truly considered can impact the real world. Come to my site and read my posts "Imagination and the Real World" and "The Story". I have always had a vivid imagination, and will always love useing it.

Oh and I love the way you've set up your site.

Posted by: Ish on Apr 7, 2005 9:16:18 AM

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