The Invisible Real

Imagining Narnia

So what of imagination when it’s splayed open, the little ones exposed and raising their voices like commercials in explanation: Look here, Mama, at the great invisibles; see the wolf in the curtain, the train come to take us, the deep water below the bed?  

So what of it – when I give the yeah -yeahs and the uh-huhs? What of it dies down a little?   

 As a mother, now it is my honor to put out fires or to let them burn, and how can I know how to enter in without my own attentive imagination in tact and the power of empathy in force? 

Imaginative empathy is as important to a healthy life as community and art, and in fact, I’m not sure that we should or could do either without the imagination and the ability to picture oneself into another’s perspective. 

So as their mother, shouldn’t I practice entering in, not only to their pirate ships and alligator pits, but also to what I know of invisible worlds – of others’ inner lives, of visions for the future, of God on a rolling throne, of my own hair and tears receiving the washed sand from Jesus’ feet?  

The imagination is not always vain, not always perverted. It is a gift for healing others and for receiving blessing.  

Imagine a yoke (and it does exist). It does not weigh much. It is over you and one strong Lion, and the Lion speaks, and He is gentle and humble, with claws pushing the hills into valleys. 

We stand in the kitchen, and the dishes are real, and the scrubbing is real, but not like soul, not like the flood we know our children face.  

We pray, and squirt the soap and make the water hotter, and we bend our spirit backs down low, pick them up and hold them heavy and limp. And there in front of us is a sink. And there in front of us is an offering table, where we beg of God. 

I am a mother, a shepherdess of bleating souls. They squeal and play, and I can crouch down with them and show them how to give it to God. I can crouch down and learn how to hundred-fold envision, how to act out needy and how to act out pure. 

How do you nurture the invisible real–the imaginations and souls of your children? 

by Amber Haines

  • deb @talk at the table

    Amber.. your words always move me so deeply.

  • Adventures In Babywearing

    Oh Amber. You translate the mother heart with perfection.

  • Kerry

    Beautiful! Moving and powerful.

  • Tiffany

    My daughter has an amazing imagination. It started at 2. I often catch her singing and dancing…twirling around as if she were before an audience. She often invites me to participate in her concert. I have to admit there were times I felt too “busy” to play. But lately it has been a wonderful escape with my daughter. Just the two of us dancing and singing together to an invisible audience.
    Beautiful post!

  • Kristen – Moms Sharpening Moms

    I am in awe of your posts, Amber. Your words are like music!
    I do my best to leave the chores behind-at least for a little while- and get down on the floor with my children. Get down and play, wrestle, cuddle, talk and laugh.
    Your children are blessed to call you Mama, and we are blessed that you write for us! Thanks you!

  • emily

    What of it dies down a little…? Such a relevant question, one I don’t think to ask until the day is done and I am quiet and still on my pillow. And it is in that time that I lay (lie?) thinking of them and their questions and constant child-likeness. And I think of my yeahs and uh-huhs. It is then I am thankful that His mercy is new every morning.

  • Mandy

    Oh. You have pierced my soul. What of it dies down a little? I am so guilty. But now so convicted. Thank you so much for opening my eyes. Your call does not go unheard. My staff is my sword. I will protect my sheep, their imaginations, and their souls. There is no greater calling.

  • Kristine McGuire

    The imagination if a blessing and a gift from God when it is put to good use. I believe we do a disservice to child and adult alike when we seek to dampen such inner creativity. We do…after all…have a Creative God.

  • laura

    Oh, friend. If you only knew. Imagination healed me. Imagination saved me. As a young girl, seeking shelter from the not-so-good…the stories captured me and kept me going.
    You better believe I give this gift to my littles. Each day we create stories. Some good, some not so…but each has it’s benefits.
    Where the Wild Things (the new movie) provides immense fodder to talk to the young ones about how stories can help us make sense of the not so easy parts of life. A caution: it’s not for very young children, however. I cried through much of it.
    Anyway, thank you. Sometimes I feel guilty for my love of story. Feel coerced to live in the land of nonfiction for a time. But it is not where my heart is.
    Stories teach. Stories heal. Stories help us grow.

  • Jen

    What an amazing post. Your words really are like music. And they are piercing!

  • Elizabeth (@claritychaos)

    ‘how to act out needy and how to act out pure’
    I haven’t been doing this. I struggle with this. I can enter into their imaginative play, I can empathize as easily as I breathe. But teaching them how to need Jesus? How to be pure in heart *for* Jesus — this is where I struggle.
    I admire what you strive to do.