It was cold. Bitter cold. Inhospitable wind tore through the skin like a serrated knife rips through a fresh loaf of bread. Ice on the road created for an interesting drive. A stoplight turned green, cars drifted from side to side struggling for just a little bit of traction. Recent snowfall, once beautiful and pure, turned to a murky slush. Walking, which is normally a straightforward endeavor, was on this day, like solving an impossible puzzle.

 

It was a Catholic church, beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. Rows of burning candles decorated the sanctuary. Light flickered. It bounced off stonewalls shining light, even if just a faint glimmer, into the darkness of the room. One candle was enough to push back the brooding darkness. Wax dripped and rolled down the side of each candle like a drip of water on a condensing glass. Fire danced like an erotic dancer.

 

Intricate. Detailed. Ornate. Time. Energy. Creativity. The high painted ceiling seemed so close you could almost touch it. One could only revel in its beauty. Words could not do it justice. But why spend so much time on mere ascetics?

 

The Catholic cathedrals themselves have something to tell us, although it does not require words. The soul yearns to express itself in creativity. Creativity is how it all began. It is a benevolent gift from God. It might be the only way to communicate the deep silence of truth in life. Of course, creativity was Adam’s original job description, naming everything God had made. Creativity is what we are made for.

 

Marcus Aurelius says, “Dig within. Within is the wellspring of good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.” John Steinbeck, a central author of American literature says, “And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for…”

 

Imagination. Everyone has one. You don’t have to be asleep to dream. Buechner says, “Imagination is perhaps as close as humans get to creating something out of nothing the way God is said to.”[1] Imagination is a power with great potential. It is like whistling or building muscles. Like anything else worth doing, it requires from us some hard work. But even a little taste, even a little broken whistle, is enough to keep us going.

 

Great imaginers wrote the Bible, and great imaginers it takes to appreciate it. To read the Bible with imaginative eyes means more than just reading it, seeing it, or hearing it. It demands we use our imagination if we are to get it at all. Buechner says, “Be the man who trips over a suitcase of hundred dollar bills buried in the field he’s blowing if you want to know what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about.” Wear the shoes of both the good and the bad, because we are all both good and bad. “Try to know them for who they are inside their skins. Hear not just the words they speak but the words they do not speak.” [2] Jesus had eyes to see rich and poor, lucky and unlucky, religious and not, strong and the weak, both pious and profane. Jesus saw all of us. “The highest work of imagination is to have eyes like that.”[3]

 

Look around sometime. Notice a dynamic creation. Work on your imagination. Creativity is a gift from God. It is worth fighting for. It is worth our time. This is what the Catholic Church knows, whether it knows it or not.


[1] Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, (1988), 64.

[2] Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, (1988), 64.

[3] Ibid, 65

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