JOHN ARMISTEAD: Flights of fancy may take us closer to God than we ever imagined

The other afternoon was so sunny and lovely, Nemo was able to sit on his back patio with us for a while. Falling leaves swirled in the light breezes, tumbling and gliding down to the ground.

“I used to love playing in the leaves when I was a kid,” said Sappho.

“I still love playing in the leaves,” said Nemo.

“Don't get any ideas,” Sissy warned him.

Nemo smiled. “Maybe next week,” he said, winking at me.

“There is something about the fresh coolness in the fall air that makes you want to run and jump and play just like when we were little,” said Pharis Aical.

“The other day my two grandsons Will and Ethan were running around in the back yard having the best time,” I said. “They were in a grand battle against evil forces, specifically monsters and dragons with a shark or two thrown in for good measure. Two-year-olds have boundless energy.”

“And such wonderful imaginations,” said Gertrude Stein. “Children live constantly with one foot in reality and the other in fantasy.”

“It's too bad most people outgrow that,” said Anne Hathaway.

“I think all people hold on to some imagination throughout life,” said Penny Kostle.

“I disagree,” said Lit Turgy. “As they get older most people live day in and day out in hard reality. Their ability to truly create bold mental images withers and dries up and turns to dust.”

“Do you think creative people like artists and inventors and the like just hold on to that a little better than the rest of us?” asked Sappho.

“Not just them, but religious visionaries as well,” said the Rev. Sojo Urnertruth. “They see new images or ideas of things that do not yet exist and begin willing them into being.”

“That doesn't make much sense to me,” said Phil Istine. “I think most adults don't indulge in imaginary nonsense because they're too busy trying to earn a living.”

“I think when you make life primarily about earning a living, you've reduced life to mere survival,” said Sappho. “We might as well be animals foraging around in the woods for something to eat.”

“All of the great concepts about spiritually, including the idea of God herself, were birthed by someone's image-making,” said Gertrude. “Yes, without imagination we'd be no different than squirrels and cows in our spirits.”

“That's ridiculous,” said the Rev. Bubba Voltaire. “Spiritual truth about man and God is divinely revealed. God takes the initiative and we merely respond to God.”

“Is it not possible that God uses our imaginations to reveal himself to us?” asked Sojo. “Scripture says God created man in his own image. What is the essence of that image? It certainly isn't that we physically look like God. Maybe it's the creative aspect that God and man share.”

“God created out of nothing,” said Voltaire. “A man has to start with something already in existence.”

“That's true,” said Lit. “Even original ideas have to be built from previous ideas. But I agree that a human's ability to project a mental image of something that is not and bring it into being, in other words the creative act, certainly must be a characteristic man shares with God that other creatures do not.”

“Nemo! What are you doing?” demanded Sissy.

Nemo was out of his chair, grinning, and slowly shuffling his feet through a pile of leaves which had gathered on one side of the patio.

John Armistead is the Daily Journal religion editor.