Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel? There are several versions of the story, but the short of it is this: the two children find themselves in the forest late at night (various reasons, depending on the version), and they wander upon a house made of candy. Lured into it by the appeal of the treats, they find themselves caught by a wicked witch who eats children. In the end, the witch is killed, one way or another, and the children saved.
Why so many versions? What do they mean? Is there only one moral to the story? Ever wonder what happens to Gretel and Hansel after the witch is killed? Recently my family and I watched a modern extension of that story in which the brother-sister duo become witch hunters. They discover that there are good witches and bad witches and their mission in the world as good witches themselves is to protect innocent human beings from the bad ones. This was one screen writer’s wild imagination at work. For nearly two hours, I was magically lost in story!
Imagination. Imagination is the set of wings supplied to every human soul. Imagination allows us to take flight from every story we live and hear. Imagination allows us to investigate the possibilities. Far too often in our culture, imagination is dismissed as useless and a trivial waste of energy. On the contrary, imagination may be one of the most important attributes that human beings inhabit.
When we face a dilemma or crisis, imagination allows us to rise up and find another way. When grief weighs us down, imagination in friendship with memory allows us to commune with the ones who have moved beyond this life. When we come to an end of a particular time in our lives, imagination grants us a special sight for where the path leads us next. Far from trivial and unreal, imagination is a most real and present strength that we have. Who taught us to distrust it?
We each have these wings called imagination. They are ours to use, today: in the face of crisis, in the face of loss, in the face of challenge, and even if we just want to soar into the clear beautiful air of a normal day for the sheer joy of it. Where will you use your wings today?
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein