Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Flights of the imagination

Multicoloured plastic fish were one of the best Birthday presents I ever received. There was nothing spectacular about them, looking back. They certainly were not expensive. The novelty lay in the thin length of fishing line that stretched from the abdomen of each fish to a small round weight. I borrowed an empty jamjar from my mother, filled it with water and then, following the instructions on the packet, transferred the fish to their new home. The length and positioning of the line ensured that the fish floated upright at exactly the depth they would have occupied had they been real. I was absolutely enthralled. Of course, once in the water, the fish did absolutely nothing, but that didn’t matter. To me, they were as real as could be. I sat staring at the jamjar and its contents for hours.

To a 9 year old with a vivid imagination, expensive presents are unnecessary. Just give a spark to the fire that’s already laid and it will burst into flames. Adventures beyond anybody else’s conceiving are there for the enjoyment. Walt Disney’s most spectacular animations have nothing of the colour, the excitement and the fantastic surroundings and events of a child’s private world. All things are possible: no mountain that can’t be climbed, no sea that can’t be swum, no planet beyond reach.

I’ve long thought that one of the greatest gifts parents can give to their children is the possibility of learning to read and write. Open a book and there is the direct entry to worlds within the minds of others. How many of us have been so absorbed in a good story that we’ve been oblivious to everything else. Minutes and hours have ticked by, but only the clock has seen them. Even food has become irrelevant compared to the last few pages of the book. Brothers, sisters, friends have come and gone, poor seconds to the story that has so totally taken hold of the imagination.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God were to be just as attention-catching as a book? What would happen if he were to take hold of my imagination?

God bless,
Sr. Janet