Andrew Peterson on Imagination

I have no serious write-up here today. Just some thoughts spurred on by an excerpt Sharla had read to me a while ago from an Andrew Peterson essay. The essay is entitled The Integrated Imagination: Fantasy in the Real World. Here is the excerpt:

Tolkien and Lewis, both in their own way, lifted me out of this world to show me a thundering beauty, and when I read the last sentence and came tumbling back to earth, I could still hear the peal. I hear it to this day.

God allowed the stories to lift the veil on the imaginary world to show me the real world behind it - which ended up being, in the end, the one I was already in. The real world, at least in part, isn’t out there somewhere, nor is it in my mind, it’s here, right under my feet. All around me. Tolkien and Lewis held the fabric of Narnia and Middle-earth in one hand and clutched ours in the other, building a bridge across which we could set out for perilous realms and yet return safely with some of the beauty we found there. The ache we feel when we read about Frodo’s voyage from the Grey Havens, the ache we feel when Lucy hears the thump of solid wood at the back of the wardrobe is telling us that yes, there’s another world. It’s a world so beautiful you can hardly see it through your tears. So let Christ dry your eyes, then look around. The stories that awaken us are meant to awaken us not only to the reality to come, but to this world and its expectant glory. Too often we retreat into the pages of our longing only to return disconsolate to the kitchen or the classroom - we’re escaping ‘from’ and not ‘to’. But to the happy child who climbs a tree and imagines it a castle turret, the tree is no less lovely. She sees in the forest a universe of possibility, and could clamber there for days; she’s as present to the castles in her dreams as to the sweeping limbs from which she swings.
— "The Integrated Imagination: Fantasy in the Real World" from the Molehill Vol. 1

Regardless of our age, it seems like the allure of imagination is inescapable. Whether you're the most creative person in your social-circle, or you don't have a single innovative bone in your body, history attests that mankind continues to have an undeniable fascination with imagination. What's peculiar, though, is that as common as this is in all of us, imagination is somewhat paradoxical. It is the aspiration to associate a desired "unknown" with one's known, apparently "lacking" world; it is to speak of something that we have never experienced in a manner that makes us seem very familiar with it. 

Take my imagining of winning the NBA finals. I've never done it, and thus have never experienced it. I'm excited about it. I want to think about it. I want to pretend it is real. I want to pretend that it's part of my life. I want to imagine that it is graft-able with my current world. Ultimately, it's a silly, fun dream. But to create that imagining is to do exactly that... create. There's an artistic enjoyment in imagining... creating something contemplative. However, this is inseparable from the fact that the imaginer perceives his current state as lacking.

I think this is where Peterson's proposal shines with a necessity that the soul demands. The soul looks to "escape" because there is a sense of knowledge that this present state is not all that there is. There is more. Obviously, this hunger is fed through recognizing God as being the variable or bridge. However, we too often neglect the bites He is trying to feed us to satisfy that appetite... to use Lewis, I am speaking of the wardrobes. God has given us many avenues for tethering His glorious realm and reality to our own. Thus, we are not estranged, wandering in this land with some disparate relationship with God and His reality, but are given a relationship by which His and our realities are already fused. We need only to take the time to recognize the many "wardrobes" He's given us so that we can learn to live in both worlds.