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Posts Tagged ‘imagination’

M.C. Escher

We see every day with our eyes. And we interpret. But how much do we really understand about what we see? How much is true and pure and how much is affected by our past experiences, our former seeings, our expectations?

Revelation 4:6-7
And in front of the throne there was also what looked like a transparent glassy sea, as if of crystal. And around the throne, in the center at each side of the throne, were four living creatures (beings) who were full of eyes in front and behind [with intelligence as to what is before and at the rear of them]. The first living creature (being) was like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature had the face of a man, and the fourth living creature [was] like a flying eagle.
[Amplified] [emphases mine]

Some years ago, I was the victim of a theft at an ATM. Although it was terrifying, my first instinct was to give chase (too many television shows?). In the end, the purse snatcher realized I had the wallet under my arm and the bag was rendered useless. He stopped and tossed it back to me. Later, I sat on a short brick wall, nursing my scraped knee and listening to the various witnesses who “saw” what happened. Not one of us could agree on the clothing, the race, the height, the weight or anything else of the thief. We each saw and yet didn’t see at all.

In Revelation, John is in a spiritual trance of some kind and has visions. He is describing to us what he sees as best he can with an understanding born of his era. I cannot help but wonder how I would describe the same scene. Would the beings look “like” animals or something else? Would the images become a movie set? Would my love for fantasy enhance and exaggerate my imagination? Would my love for science fiction give me Star Trek interpretations?

How many miscommunications do we have every day? How many times do we misinterpret what we see in a gesture or a facial expression?

The other day, I was looking at a newspaper photograph and it actually took me a full thirty seconds to see the picture and understand its content. It was in a group of “art” photos and so I must have assumed it was something with deep meaning and ethereal intentions. Finally, my mind collected itself, and I realized I was looking at a ballet dancer’s shoe on point. That’s all. Why couldn’t my mind understand this image initially? Was it truly a “senior moment?” Is this how people who have suffered strokes experience the world? Inside, we know it’s something familiar but we cannot seem to process it.

I believe we are all doing this through the day: many assumptions, many judgments.

It’s one of the reasons people struggle with modern and post-modern art. Their minds are trying to “understand” what they are seeing. They want a label. Instead, I think these artists are calling us to simply see without words, to allow colors and shapes and densities to open up new synapses.

by J. Albers

I am just about sick to death of the phrase, “out of the box” thinking. Most people can’t “think” or “see” out of a box because those things defy easy description or understanding. Creativity demands a certain amount of sustained chaos.

The things of God, of Spirit, are no different. There is no single interpretation or understanding. God is fluid. Faith is a moving target. The Holy Spirit is outside of time. And the images that John saw in Revelation were his way of describing a vision, a vision of adoration and worship.

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A popular teaching among Christians emphasizes a person’s weaknesses and God’s ability to work with them to create strength [2nd Corinthians 12:9] and I don’t necessarily disagree. But perhaps we have lost sight of the importance of gifted strengths.

I Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
[NIV 1984] or As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. [Amplified]

I have given a number of workshops on problem solving and the core usually revolves around some type of brainstorming, a wild explosion of crazy ideas tossed onto the table without concern for viability or ridiculousness. It’s a tool for tackling that worn-out saying, “think outside the box.” It’s a tool for generating creativity.

But many people will shy away from this term, creativity, saying they don’t have it. I disagree. I believe everyone is creative to one degree or another. Most people put some energy into selecting clothes in the morning, making a meal, purchasing an item, planning a party or other event, etc. These decisions are made out of that creative place within. It’s directing oneself toward an end. It’s seeing beforehand, it’s dreaming and imagining.

Divine gifts: some people nurture their creativity and as a result, it is more accessible to them. But everyone has it, because God is creative. And we are extensions of God’s mind. And it’s a definite strength, foundational to human, unique and elastic.

But we must also remember that gifts are a personal responsibility. Like the parable of the talents [Mathew 25:14-30], we have to administer the gifts entrusted to us: we have to use them, not exercise false modesty saying, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” Baloney.

I understand there are concerns about working our talents and, as a result, getting prideful or self-absorbed. But it’s not the gift that’s the problem, it’s the motive.

It’s the same misunderstanding many people have about money, thinking that money is evil, when it’s the “love of money” that strangles the soul [I Timothy 6:10].

Perhaps we should all try this: create a resume for serving God and others.

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