What if our imagination should become as a little child’s? What if receiving the kingdom of heaven as a little child mostly meant imagining it differently? Not stern and beautiful like Milton, but jolly and abundant.
Last night I came home to my little boy wearing a red bath robe with a red bandanna on his head pirate-style, a garbage bad tucked into his neckline for a beard, and another garbage bag dragging behind his red trike. He was Santa Claus, he said. My littlest girl was wearing a tan quilt with sticks stuck in her braids. She was the reindeer. The reins were from a swing.
The childish imagination is Calvin and Hobbes, Narnia, the Hobbit. When the Abrahamic trial comes, it trusts, because it believes that something golden must lie out there in darkness.
“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.”
They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, “If you are thirsty, come and drink,” and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Even Lord of the Rings has childlike elements. It has hobbits, the Shire, the last Homely House, Strider. Even its orderliness, its insistence on getting the details right for their own sake, is childish.
Perhaps, instead of standing in awe at the works of God, we should wriggle with delight.