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The Call to Help People See: Cultivating Sacramental Imagination

The Call to Help People See: Cultivating Sacramental Imagination

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Originally Published in Worship Leader Magazine Volume 28|Number 4

By Glenn Packiam

We lived on a row of terrace houses, houses that all shared a brick wall to the left and the right, and yet had iron gates at the entrance of each driveway. Our house had no backyard, just a patio of sorts with an outdoor kitchen to prepare fragrant Asian meals and a place to hang up laundry to dry. The patio looked down to an alleyway that few people chose to walk through.

We had a small front garden with a papaya tree, a little red palm tree, and a variety of vibrant tropical flowers. Across the street, beyond our iron gate, there was a half-uprooted tree stump that lay almost parallel to the ground. And there was a large stone nestled near it, which seemed to be a perfect seat. The first time I took my place on the stump by the stone, I knew it was no ordinary spot. I was sitting in a spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, actually. Many afternoons in my boyhood were spent flying at warp speed through the galaxy, dodging enemy fighters, and rescuing fellow pilots.

The imagination of a child is one of the most powerful forces in the galaxy. But something happens as we grow up. Tree stumps and stones become just tree stumps and stones. The world is not as magical as it once was. Things become ordinary. And the older we get, the more ordinary life seems. Where we once dreamed of changing the world, we find ourselves occupied with changing diapers and flat tires. Where our conversations used to be about the far distant future, we now plan our weekend around our yard work and errands or kids’ soccer games and dance rehearsals. It’s easy to think the problem is the choices we’ve made—we got the wrong job, the wrong house, or the wrong friends.

But it may just be that we’ve lost our ability to see. We no longer perceive the magic around us. The once-active imagination now sputters and stalls. The problem isn’t the house or the job or the friends or our kids’ activities. The problem is we’ve lost a holy imagination.

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