Where there is no imagination the people perish
In times past the nomad people of the dessert would gather at night around a blazing fire. Under a twinkling sky and in the shadow of the celestial tent they would make deals and trade goods; they would share food and break bread; they would recount tales of stories old, and they would play music and dance.
As the dancers performed their customary routines, once in a while a dancer would stand out from the rest and capture the hearts of the crowd with their unique grace and beauty. In each movement and twirl the power of the dance would manage to stir up profound emotions. The magic of the dance would resonate deeply within the souls of those present, leading them to places of spiritual enlightenment.
People knew this was not an ordinary dance, but one of exceptional and special meaning and they responded accordingly, chanting and clapping with exhilaration, ‘Allah! Allah! Allah!’ As they glimpsed the divine they knew in their hearts that this dance was coming from ‘Allah’, from God, the source of the creative impulse and imagination in us all. When these tribes of North Africa settled in the south of Spain they brought with them their customs and traditions and the chants of ‘Allah’ become one of ‘Olé!’
The biblical story of Bezalel, the craftsman appointed by God to do the artistic works of the Tabernacle, asserts very clearly that beauty in all its delight and disturbing qualities comes from God: “I have given him understanding, skill, and ability for every kind of artistic work”.
As we enter the Season of Advent that leads us to the birth of Christ, we should take the opportunity to celebrate God’s creative way of bringing salvation to the world, and hail the imaginative and creative person, who was Jesus Christ, the story-teller, who spoke in a profound way about the mystery and wisdom of God.
We should celebrate our imagination which can achieve amazing things; nobody thought that an “art installation” of a few tents outside a church would incite such a reaction and debate in society. It did. Imagination is a powerful thing. This Christmas let us renew our calling to be a creative community in the world.