There is no moon this morning when I step outside and the sun has not yet made the long journey to the horizon. The sky is erubescent—millions of rubies lit from within. I think of the program we watched on the Hubble telescope the other night and wonder at all that is beyond earth’s swirling atmosphere.
“I don’t want to think about anything but you,” I tell the Creator One, as we begin our slow ascent out of the neighborhood.
And it works for about two minutes. Then I start thinking about life, about the day, about things that need doing. I shake myself periodically and come back to our together place, but it is always the slow wander.
The stars above slowly become day-blind and I remember the Carina Nebula—one of the largest star forming regions in our skies and I imagine newborn stars blinking awake for the first time and almost feel the stellar winds blow in the wake of the genesis.
A couple weeks ago, my pastors started a sermon series on the parables of Jesus. He spoke in story—in parables, Mr. Pastor said–to offer us truth in a way that stirs imagination and wonder. Parable—that word that shares the Greek root parabolḗ with our mathematical term parabola. Remember the parabola from geometry class? The parabola is that section of a cone that is able to bring parallel rays of light to a single focus point–a fact capitalized on by telescope makers who use parabolic-shaped mirrors in their optical design. A parable can act in the same way: gathering light and magnifying—bringing close a focal point of truth through the integration of several points.
Mrs. Pastor talked about a painting she has in her den. She described the forest scene that captures her heart every time she gazes at it.
“Folks, if I let it, that painting will draw me in.”
A parable does that too, she said—it paints a picture with words that invites me to place myself inside that story. And when I place myself there…the truth the parable points to inhabits my very being.
Luci Shaw calls it the baptized imagination. It’s a term she borrowed from C.S. Lewis. She says faith has been called a certain widening of the imagination. And isn’t this true? Where would my faith be if my imagination didn’t open my eyes to the hills filled with chariots of fire? (2 Kings 6:17).
Madeline L’Engle says, “Stories, no matter how simple, can be vehicles of truth; can be, in fact, icons. It’s no coincidence that Jesus taught almost entirely by telling stories, simple stories dealing with the stuff of life familiar to the Jews of his day. Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named. And naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.”
Only we can know if a work of art is “Christian” she goes on to say. We can know only if it speaks within our own hearts, and leads us to living more deeply with Christ in God.
I think about these things as I run under invisible stars being born somewhere out there in the universe. I cannot see them, but my imagination allows me to picture what kind of beauty they might give to the world. And I wonder, as I come back to our together place—isn’t all of life art? And, what kind of story is my life telling? Like the parabola, does it point to truth?
Like a newborn star emerging from clouds of gas I move through the dark…running into the light.
Linking up with Michelle today:
And Jen and the sisters: