Credit: HumanSeeHumanDo on Flickr via Creative Commons

Credit: HumanSeeHumanDo on Flickr via Creative Commons

Until I was ten years old I was an only child. My family moved from Arizona to Pennsylvania when I was six, and from there to Illinois when I was eight. I don’t recall having many childhood friends, but I do remember playing games with various neighborhood kids (though not which kids belong to which neighborhoods). Mostly they were spy games with the boys, in which I was the lead detective or spy with all my many sidekicks. Left to my own devices, I might wander in to my Barbie-decked room and spend a few hours making tiny schoolbooks out of spiral notebook paper and pencils, or rearranging their house, or coming up with outlandish outfits. I don’t remember actually touching the Barbie dolls very often.

I also wrote lots of stories, made friends with lots of strangers, and loved music. My very first cassette tape was the Beach Boys, and I remember listening to Bryan Adams on repeat for weeks when I was ten. I loved to dance, spastically, to “In the Air Tonight” or “On the Road Again.” I was an adorable kid.

My first experience with artistic frustration was art class in junior high. We’d learn a new technique in class and be given a project to complete demonstrating our mastery of said technique. Over and over I would envision some elaborate piece only to be frustrated when I stepped back from the paper to see something that looked like…a kid drew it. I could never transfer the visions in my mind to the page. I didn’t know how to get better, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I quit.

My sophomore year in high school I took a drama class. After about four weeks, the teacher pulled me aside and informed me that auditions had begun for the fall play. I had never dreamed I could act, so I brushed the information off. Two days later he asked why I hadn’t auditioned yet, and I stammered some excuse. He told me if I didn’t audition he was going to fail me in class. Since I was an honor roll student, and naive enough to believe him, my high school acting career began that night. I quickly learned, though, that competition is a very real thing. After a few years of making enemies based strictly on parts won and performances given, I stopped competing. I told myself that other people wanted it more, so the kind thing to do would be to let them have it.

I also learned that good Christian people don’t read or watch fantasy, science fiction, horror, or thrillers. Unless the thriller involves angels and demons as defined in the Bible. Christians could read historical fiction, Amish romances, or aforementioned spiritual warfare thrillers. Movies were pretty much entirely evil. Since a lot of art involves the human form, struggle with something sinful, or non-Christian spirituality it should mostly be avoided. And only worship music is godly music.

The world, for a time, became very small. It’s taken years to rediscover my imagination, in a journey that’s been a mix of giving up on the idea of fitting the mold, remembering the power of symbol, and fascination with a good story. I’m an incredibly visually stimulated writer, which means I could never help the whispers of story bubbling up in my mind when I’d look at a painting or photo of a door or a pathway or a bridge. I re-watched a movie that had moved me from childhood, and felt that familiar tightening in my chest at certain scenes. I picked up a classic fantasy novel and was transported to a strange but somehow remembered world of meaning and magic.

I rejected the idea that God can’t be found in human struggle of all kinds, and He started showing up everywhere. Now I devour it all – the music, the art, the films, the occasional cheesy CW show – and find I’m insatiable. It’s like hide-and-seek with the Divine, a wooing romance that spins around me and opens my eyes to the fact that He’s present and living and active and beautiful. When my world was small He was confined to some ethereal “other place” and I was just waiting to join Him there. Now we play and weep and work and dance every day.

This world, in its broken places, tries to strip us of imagination, romance, enchantment. We can’t let it. We need to see the world through each others’ eyes. We need to bleed and sweat into its cracks and crevices so that new life can begin to bloom out of the desolation. We need to pour ourselves out in all the colors of the rainbow, wrapping each other up with poetry and setting broken hearts with hands that can fashion clay. Grow bigger. Remember the childhood fantasies you made yourself forget. Give yourself over to enchantment.

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed. Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye. You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living. And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing. For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet



  1. Michael T. said,

    January 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Yea, I know, totaly missing the point but, you are an adorable adult.

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