Friday, September 27, 2013

From Corpse to Bride

Spirits of my good friend's imagination.


I was finishing a Yoga session, listening to a podcast from Bethel church in Redding. The podcast, which I can no longer recall specifically, mentioned prophetic visions and dreams. At that point, I quit listening so I can't relay the teaching to you. It had something to do with Kris Vallaton having a vision, and what I took from it (without listening to a word of it) was that Kris gets visions, I don't. Frankly, I thought that an unfair load of rotten apples.

Have you ever been through Wenatchee, WA (the self-proclaimed apple capital of the world) after the apple harvests have finished and the leftover fruit is left to fall to the ground and decompose? I have. Kids who grow up there call the town The Snatch, in response to the vulgar aroma.

Yes, other people receiving visions who aren't me: the essence of vulgarity.

I lay there in corpse pose, letting my blood settle back into its routine, and started a conversation with Dad. "I want to have visions," I told him. Then, boldly indignant, I explained that it wasn't very fair to give some people visions while skipping me. "That's like saying, some of my sheep hear my voice. Some do not. Random luck of the draw. Better luck next time, kiddo."

The moment I paused to draw breath, Dad responded firm and clear, though not unkind.

I didn't clear my mind, close my eyes, or try to listen in any way. I wasn't done speaking, actually, and wasn't expecting to be interrupted. Nevertheless, He spoke. The words I heard were so counter to my present train of thought, two things I couldn't do occurred simultaneously.

First, I couldn't help but hear Him.

Second, I couldn't give myself any credit for coming up with the idea. Thus suggesting, for me at least, that what I'd heard was Dad.

"You do have visions," he said.

"What? Visions my booty," I would have replied had I any time. But Dad doesn't need words to speak, and doesn't have to inhale to give you a moment to interrupt.

Immediately, several stories I've written came to mind. Then one in particular settled into the forefront of my imagination. Dad returned me to my seat in front of my computer screen in my dining room, where I wrote the story. I sat there typing as my imagination played the story like a film behind my eyes. I paused occasionally, allowing my imagination to play, then writing what I saw as quickly and accurately as I could.

The process felt like I was translating a story from one language to another. From spirit language, which uses no words, to English. At once a limiting and liberating exercise.

What Dad was showing me is that the thing, the head space, I've been told is my imagination, is also the space Dad uses to give me visions. It's the same space engaged when I read a book, play a board game, listen to music, study a painting, watch a ballet.

Though these things are rooted in the physical world, they transport me to non-physical realms. That's why I read, or play games, or any of these activities. On their own, they're neat but essentially boring. Alongside my imagination, I can engaged with them for hours and not disengage until forcibly separated.

We exercise our imagination by experiencing the creative results of another's imagination. From there, depending on our life experiences and skills, we can begin to exercise our imaginations apart from any other's, and create.

Being a writer, this creative process of receiving visions and translating them occurs most naturally as I write stories. However, I believe this experience can be had in many ways. When my friend Dave carves a pipe, for example, he first imagines it what it will look like. When my husband writes a song on the guitar, he first imagines what it will sound like. When my friend Claire knits a garment, she first imagines wearing it. When my friend Josiah creates a cocktail, he first imagines drinking it. When I heal, I first imagine wholeness.

Midnight release of, as you may have

guessed, the final Harry Potter.

What I'm saying is when we tap into our creative imagination, we are receiving visions from God. When I read a book, I'm engaging the same imagination as when I write a book. The difference is that one experience creates, the other is created. In one experience, an author provides narrative that shapes my imagination's path. In the other experience, my imagination provides images that shape the path of my narrative. That ten people can read the same book, and if asked to make a film of that book, would produce ten radically different results, suggests to me that imagination is highly personal, subjective, and vital whether its being used in author or reader capacity.

I've noticed a fear in adults throughout my life, particularly adults who attend churches, that particular stories or games are influenced by evil. I believe this to an extent: when I translate an author's narrative into my imagination, perhaps there's some wiggle room for demonic influence.

Harry Potter was a huge deal for the church attending people in my life as a child. Its a book about witchcraft, clearly anti-Christ, clearly an abomination and should be kept from the hands of our impressionable, vulnerable children. Luckily, none of them were my parents, and I was encouraged to read them.

Before we can create in meaningful ways, we must learn to imagine. One thing I noticed as a kid reading Harry Potter, was that at first, the story was simply words on a page. I'd read a page, get bored, walk away. Read two pages, get bored, walk away. Eventually, I pushed through a few more pages, and my imagination kicked in. Suddenly, I was enraptured by a world completely unlike any I'd experienced. I couldn't stop reading. I can tell you from watching the movies, my imagination was completely different and vastly more satisfying than the filmmakers'.

Every time I picked up the book, it took less and less time for my imagination to engage, and I was able to read for ever extending periods. I'm not suggesting that Harry Potter was a vital read, and that I owe my capacity to receive visions from God to reading that series. However, as we practice engaging our imaginations, we gain stamina. We can engage more quickly and for longer periods of time.

Imagination is so vital, I'll argue that it should be nurtured and encouraged without fail. Whether its books like Harry Potter, or games like Magic the Gathering, no fear of demonic influence should prevent the use of a person's imagination.

In my own creative work, I've found that the more I read and allow other's to shape an imagination experience, the more stamina I have when it comes to having imagination experiences completely free of influence except from God.

I'm not sure if you caught what I just insinuated, so let me clarify: every act of creativity starts with an imagination experience influenced directly from God.

Whether a proclaimed "Christian" or not, God gives people visions. Whether there's wiggle room for demonic influence is besides the point. If it was created, it was inspired by God. Yes, we are capable of imagining terrible things. Even those begin inspired from God. I've never heard it argued that C.S. Lewis wasn't Christian, yet he had to imagine some gruesome and disturbing war images for The Chronicles of Narnia. He actually imagined being a demon for The Screw tape Letters.

In the song below, "Clint Eastwood" by The Gorillaz featuring Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (knowing before you do that there are a couple F*bombs ahead), you can hear a splendid example of prophecy spoken outside of a church-approved prophet. Mostly, it's a good song. I think it also compliments the concept I'm trying to explain in this post. Until Part 2, enjoy and be blessed.

(Oh, yeah. The point of this post, as ever, is to stir conversation and stoke questions. Have at it!)

"Allow me to make this childlike in nature: Rhythm, you have it or you don't, that's a fallacy. I'm in them - every sproutin' tree, every child of peace, every cloud and sea."
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