I lifted my eyebrow inquisitively, not knowing what was to come from the racket of foot thumps trundling down the hallway. My teenager emerged, her socked feet skidding across the hardwood floor. Flailing her limbs wide in vulture stance to regain her balance, she left them there as if playing a game of freeze tag that no one else was in on. Eyes wide, her gaze transfixed on the television. Then, her visage sank, along with her slumped shoulders. “Oh, it’s just a car commercial,” she said disappointedly.
“Were you expecting something else?” I asked.
“It just doesn’t match the colors the music put in my brain.”
I smirked at the juxtaposition. The commercial was indeed one shade: desert brown. Still, I was confused. “Music put colors in your brain?”
She expounded, “Picture a black space. Then picture whiteish-blue tendrils, like some sort of plant growing. There’s a splash of orange like a light! And a glowing yellow flower-ish thing—I think that’s how you would describe it. Mind you the background is all black for this, so everything’s glowing. From the bottom left comes some purple that’s similar to what the blue thing was . . . it’s snaking into the blue because they meet at the center. There’s something green. It’s another splash of color, like paint, and it fades. Then there’s a bunch of red, orange, and yellow, just kind of popping up . . .”
As she explained, I reminisced on her self-description from years earlier: a “big clash of color,” and I had to giggle. It is still remarkably accurate.
“Commercials only last so long,” she said. “This was in my brain, and I was curious what the commercial was about. It was about cars. I am severely disappointed.”
All this exploded in her mind’s eye from a melody’s mere moments of influence. Who can concoct so much detail in thirty seconds? And consequently become so excited about it? Evidently, she can.
Her night dreams are lucid. Her daydreams are Fantasia.
How Little I See
My personal imagination doesn’t have a category for effortless, untethered flight into color, abstraction, or layered nuance. It doesn’t elaborate unprompted. I wonder if it has always been this way—if it’s just an aspect of how I’m designed, or if I’ve trained my imagination to bow out, reeling in fascination like a kite on a string, flying low for fear a gust will carry it off to somewhere irretrievable. Out of uncertainty, I keep my flight of fancy low. Safe. Either I have to wear myself out, running to make it go by my own effort, or just settle for not flying. I often choose the latter.
Yet every time my daughter gives me a glimpse of her ruminations, I’m curious what depth I may be missing out on. I used to quench her mental creativity, my parental role worried about grounding her in reality or annoyed that her train of thought took us on a ride my checklist of accomplishments didn’t have time for. Now I pray that my rigidity won’t hinder her unique God-given perspectives. Of course, I still pray for her to be hungry for scripture, grounded in truth, and hopefully become a responsible member of society. But it doesn’t change my awareness of how little I see. I see flowers and clouds and think, “That’s pretty.” She observes flowers and gets lost in details’ minutia, constructing a whimsical backstory. She wonders how the puffs and rays of today’s sky will compare with its appearance when Christ returns.
Wonder’s enrichment magnifies the Lord. It may manifest in pure simplicity or the brightness of musical color. And I don’t want to miss either one.
I tend to weigh all things with logic. What is just obvious to her, I have to choose to see. I don’t get my hopes up to avoid potential disappointment. She excitedly anticipates, jumps in, and feels the pain fully if it doesn’t all pan out. If adventure doesn’t exist, she creates it, and experiences it to the full, unbound by typical sensibilities. I adore that about her. God graciously supplies his beloved with both approaches. We need both to a point, and not at the expense of the other.
Still, I am challenged. When discussing God’s grandeur being unbound by time or space, do I simply use his sovereign truth, the depths of which we cannot know, as an authoritative stamp to seal my position? Or do I pause to bask in awe of all that limitless truth implies? Have I assumed that the thoroughly unknowable things are a waste to bother with? Or does God desire to share more slivers of his secrets for me to delight in if I’ll take the time to think on them? It’s probably a little of each, these days.
I don’t always know the answer to my own questions, really. Being able to ask without having the answer is, perhaps, the point of adventure. What I do know is that beholding my daughter’s beyond-commonplace vision compels a greater awe of God in me. It provokes me to dig deeper into his word for myself, to rest longer in his love for me, and ultimately to see far beyond myself. And that is a wonder-full thing.
Cover image by Jr Korpa.