"Seeking Imagination"

awareness, cognitive overload; mental fatigue

This past Sunday at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Kristy Farber preached a sermon that really affected me.  Her title was Seeking Imagination and I remembered thinking to myself that morning, “What does Mark 8:27-38 have to do with imagination?”

On top of that, the following quote by Anne Lamott was printed in the bulletin by the picture above. “Can you imagine the hopelessness of trying to live a spiritual life when you’re secretly looking up at the skies not for illumination or direction, but to gauge, miserably, the odds of rain?” This quotation really appealed to me since figuratively speaking, I’m always gauging the odds of rain in my life.

I’ve never been a lectionary preacher but I’m beginning to see how using a lectionary can be good for the life of the church.  I think sometimes there’s a danger in making the text fit what the preacher wants to say to the congregation and I was a bit fearful that Kristy was going to this this.  However, the Spirit moved through her and spoke to my needs and I suspect to others as well.

In it she said, “If we are going to deny ourselves and try to be more like Jesus, we may need to exercise our imaginations.  To do so may be a part of denying ourselves. Attempting to see, not just what we have always seen, not just what we have been taught to see, but the things God may have for us.”

My TBI really messed up my dreams.  I wanted to be a pastor who preached more regularly than what I had been doing at the church I served.  I wanted to be involved in urban ministry and do more pastoral care.  The plan was I would be the breadwinner and my husband Michael would get a PhD in Anthropology or Psychology.  Our accident certainly ended that dream – not right away though.  Awareness is a huge issue when someone has a brain injury.  People just aren’t aware of how the brain injury has affected them.

For some folks, knowledge of one’s abilities can take a long time as it has in my case. For those of us who don’t have a lot of noticeable difficulties, it can be even harder.  I am able to do quite a bit now. However, when I push myself to do too much I’m usually no good for a day or so.I have to deal with the effects of cognitive overload, over stimulation, mental fatigue and others things.  As a result, I make choices.  Is what I want to do worth being out-of-commission for a few days or not? .  Many brain injury survivors do not have this choice which for me is a blessing and a curse.

I often must read again the poem Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley. She tells the experience of raising a child with a disability.  For the whole poem go here. http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html  In it she writes, ‘The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting place full of pestilence, famine and disease….  It’s just a different place.  It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.” 

The pain of having a TBI is never going to go away but I don’t believe God allowed this to happen to me for a reason. Instead, God uses the things that happen to us so we may have new life.  God is as sad about this justy as I am but as Kristy said in her sermon, “As we seek to follow Christ, to deny ourselves, let us pray for the vision and insight to see this world through the eyes of Jesus, the one who brings life out of death and hope in unexpected places.”

I ask for God to help me imagine something different than my shattered dreams.  It will take a while.  It has already taken a while.  As Kingsley said, “But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.” 

And there ARE some lovely things here!

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