Editor’s note: This week we celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving Week of Gratitude, with Loyola Press authors sharing reflections on gratitude each day.My two young sons pretend their bunk bed is a spaceship and they climb aboard, ready to blast off. On another day, a line of dining room chairs becomes a train, headed for adventure. I’m fixing dinner when my older son walks sideways through the kitchen, opening and closing his hands like castanets. “I’m a crab!” he tells me.
No matter how tired, overwhelmed, or downcast I may be, I always get a lift when I see my boys using their imaginations.
When they are playing this way, they are fully engaged and fully happy. It’s as if the imagination pulls a ripcord and their little selves start to expand, moving beyond boredom and sibling bickering. It’s witnessing freedom, pure and simple.
I’m grateful for these little glimpses into my boys’ imaginative lives. It’s not just because I love seeing them so happy. It’s because these moments of creative freedom remind me that the imagination is a gift from God, a gift we receive abundantly as kids. What happens to it as we grow up? Sometimes I think it rusts from lack of use, as pragmatism and fear take over.
And yet our imagination can help us write, draw, dance, engage with Christ in prayer, and envision a more just world. It has the power to change so much. I’m grateful for it, and for the two boys who, time and again, show me just how much fun it is to use it.