How do you define imagination?  Today I heard a marvelous approach — slipped into a commencement address at Harvard given by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books (this is not a blog on Harry Potter — I’ll leave those thoughts to another time and place).

Let’s back up a bit.  So, I’m reading the Saskatoon Star Phoenix online (our local “big city paper”).  There is a section on the best YouTube videos of the week.  I’ve found YouTube has an amazing way of making available things that would otherwise remain the purview of very few.  I’m curious so I wander there.  Here is a speech by J.K. Rowling.  Not being a big fan of Harry Potter, but recognizing a storytelling genius, I wanted to see what she had to say (if you do look at the two part video, be sure to get the right ones, some finish 2/3 of the way through and leave you hanging).

She spoke on failure.  That all of us will fail.  Here answer was that none of us can truly do life on our own — and then affirms that at the rock bottom of failure we find our true selves are able to survive.  Unfortunately she implies that we can become our own saviors.  If life never launches from rock bottom, can we still be content?  OK, I’m getting at the need for a greater savior than ourselves.

Then she turns to imagination.  This she attaches to her experience in working as a researcher with Amnesty International.  We have the ability to see beyond what we experience to that which could be.  We can help to change the world.  I agree, if we begin from the right foundation!

And here is the definition, which I wish was written in dictionaries — “To learn and understand without having experienced”.  Imagination is more than  just fairy tales — an idea will affect our actions.  And so,  in casting around in our grey matter for pictures and principles we have not lived, we begin to realize that which could be lived.  And by the grace of God, we discern where we should be and what we should be about.

And now, to Him, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him and for his sake be the credit and the glory through those who consciously are joined to His community and through the working of His Savior  (Jesus Christ), both expressed and experienced from the beginning and until the end of time.

And I guess you can add an AMEN to that!