Eugene Peterson asserts in his book, Under the Unpredictable Plant, that imagination has been destroyed in America. Peterson says it best himself,
“A major and too-little remarked evil in our time is the systematic degradation of the imagination. The imagination is chief glories of the human. When it is healthy and energetic, it ushers us into adoration and wonder, into the mysteries of God…The American imagination today is distressingly sluggish…Imagination is the mental tool we have for connecting material and spiritual, visible and invisible, earth and heaven.”
I agree completely. So often it is easy to become lost in the actual, in the reality of life. It becomes increasingly difficult to envision anything beyond that which is present. The imagination, however, is a beautiful thing. It allows us to experience more than just what is and always will be. In light of this, I have shared a short story below the photograph that I wrote the other day when I was watching the birds fly into the pine trees outside my window, perhaps this will spark your own imagination.
© Tom Gable
“The sun is squirting through the pine branches; there is no breeze, no wind. The morning air is crisp in the way that fresh springtime morning air is. Off in the woods I can still hear a barred owl calling and the pounding of woodpeckers pulling slivers of wood from the cedar trunks. Stepping out of my cabin, I see my breath condense and rise to the blue sky. My cup of dark coffee is steaming like a geyser in the mountains. I pull up my old wooden rocking chair on the porch and listen to all the sounds of the forest that surround me.
Out of the woods walks a bearded man, treading quietly through the grass towards me. I am not alarmed, not worried. There is a quiet reverence about him, a kindness in his eyes that expresses sentiment much deeper than words. Without saying anything he comes to rest in the rocking chair beside me. I retreat to the cabin and pour this gentleman a hot cup of coffee. Setting the coffee on the table next to him, I ask “What’s your name?” There were no words, just silence and a smile, and then a soft whistle – a melodious tune that had never graced my ears resonated through the timber and echoed off the mountains.
He stopped and still he said nothing, content to sit there slowly rocking back and forth with a small grin. Instead of forcing conversation I just sat there and listened to the symphony of stillness – and then one by one birds started flying in to the trees by my bird-feeders. Chickadees cardinals, juncos, warblers, every bird that I had ever seen in the wild. Joyfully they sang beautiful arrangements as they enjoyed the seed that had been set out for them.
The man next to me laughed, a deep hearty laugh that bellowed from the soul. A laugh of satisfaction and joy, a laugh that knew the majesty of these beautiful creatures. I started laughing too, not knowing fully why. Perhaps it was because I was sharing a cup of coffee with a man who wandered out of the woods and wouldn’t speak just smile.Perhaps it was the feeling of peace this man seemed to convey or the deeper connection we had that transcended words. Perhaps it was because we both saw the magnificence in the woods. Or perhaps it was the scars on his wrist I saw when he picked up the coffee cup from the worn wooden table.”