Trevor recently reminded me of one of life's ultimate truths: the greatest toy in the world is a big box. Every kid loves playing in anything they can fit inside of, but appliance boxes (especially the coveted refrigerator boxes) seem particularly popular. But why? Why is a cardboard box so amazing?
Imagination. A toy is what it is, but a box can be anything: a barn, a spaceship, a house, a fort, you name it. The cardboard is a blank slate upon which to paint in wide strokes of imagination. Things aren't limited to what they truly are; the only limit is the end of what could be. There is a deep and abiding beauty in a child's imagination at play.
Adults seem to lose this over time. The real replaces the fantastic, and we forget how it feels to be a dog herding sheep or a pirate on the high seas. The abstract gives way to the concrete, and only the cement-laden externals remain real. I think this is perhaps why adults have a difficult time coming to faith in Jesus. We sneer at stories of the miraculous, scorn the supernatural, and devote our lives only to what our senses can tell us. But our senses are limited and deceitful. We must have a bit of faith, an ability to see what is beyond sight. Maybe that takes a dollop of imagination -- not in the sense of crafting fictions for ourselves, but in the way which opens our minds and souls to things being other than what they seem.
We may outgrow our boxes (yes, even the refrigerator boxes), but we must never outgrow our need for imagination, our need for stories, or our need for openness. We should never lose a sense of wonder, a childlike faith that looks around us, sees a castle, and believes in a King seated upon a heavenly throne.