My friend Ann Frailey has written another lovely little meditative piece, http://blog.catholicwritersguild.com/2021/02/i-lift-my-gaze.html. It’s about death and grief, a coincidence because the same topic has been on my mind. Her opening quote, which was from Tom Hanks’ character of Walt Disney in the film Saving Mr. Banks, put my own thoughts in focus: “That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”
“We restore order with imagination.” Yes, we do. Belittled as the least of the faculties, imagination does restore order. I don’t think I’ve ever considered deeply the extent of its order-restoring power until I read the quote in Ann’s essay. I was instantly aware of understanding the complete reality of fairies living under the leaves of dandelions, of the glitter they made as they flitted about; of rubies in their natural habitat, grains of rose-gold Georgia sand under the front porch, a universe I explored on four-year-old hands and knees. Seven decades later, it’s still real, unlike the many realities I’ve embraced in the interim, realities I believed in, things that go by such introductory phrases as “grow up, girl”, “it is what it is”, and so many more, including the ever-popular: “God is not real”.
Funny, how I’ve outgrown all those grown-up realities. Ruby sand is more real than any of them. The truth is that we don’t know what reality is, but he does, and among all the unspeakably wonderful things we do have, thanks to him, is imagination. As Disney says in the film, it’s what restores order, regardless of what may be happening in universes other than the one under the porch. How does it do that? Hope–that’s how. I don’t know if there’s hope without imagination. Maybe there is, but it’s not a hope I know. I remember as a child, living in one room with my waitress mother, and enjoying the charity of the landlady when she let me watch, every week on her black and white tv, the Walt Disney show. I remember the theme song, “When you wish upon a star ….” Order was restored, and hope was born again.