When I was a teenager, we lived on a lake, deep in the country. On summer nights I would retreat to our small dock, lie on my back and look up at the stars, marveling at the unimaginable prospect of infinity. I felt a sense of dizziness, others might call it awe, when confronted with the vastness of the universe. After a while, I would roll over and look into the dark water. When I shined a flashlight into the murkiness, microscopic water creatures would swarm toward the beam, creating a moving constellation of tiny, living beings.
That sense of dizzying awe I felt (and still do, actually) I now think comes from trying to imagine the unimaginable. When I run, 100 yards can seems like a mile. How can I begin to comprehend light years and billions? Understanding a Creator who made a dizzyingly large universe requires imagination. Not only is that our God dizzyingly creative, God is infinitely loving. Can you imagine loving the most evil person you can think of? Can you imagine loving a mosquito? Me neither. But I can keep trying.
Faith in an eternal, infinite, loving God depends upon imagination. Imagination is fostered through play, stories, nature, art, and often a smidge of boredom (sometimes called peace and quiet). All of these things are essential to child development, and yet they are scarce in today’s scheduled, digital world. For these reasons, I am passionate about creativity and play as a part of faith formation. I wonder what our Sunday schools would look like if we fully embraced wonder and imagination?
Here are a few of my other articles on the relationship between play and faith: