It has been said that the greatest nation is our imagination. I'm not sure who first coined this phrase, but I like it. In a world that often seems bleak, it is our imagination that can transcend the bleakness and take us to a better place. At least for a little while.
I am lucky to have a grand daughter. She has reintroduced me to the land of make believe. We go there all the time. It is populated with mermaids, unicorns, butterflies, owls, the royal family and of course, the bad guy named Hans. Hans causes a lot of trouble and is constantly in need of forgiveness and of another chance to get it right. In this land of make believe, living the virtues still doesn't come naturally. Fallen human nature is still a problem.
Pope Francis just paid a visit to the United States. I, like so many, were glued to the live stream of his addresses to the White House, Congress, USCCB, The United Nations and finally to the World Meeting of Families. His words helped me to imagine a better world for my grand daughter. If we, like Hans, can overcome our fallen human nature, we have a chance at putting an end to fighting, caring for the land, welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, ending poverty, upholding all life as sacred and learning to forgive and to start over. For those of us chosen to be Catholic Christians, our hope in a better world comes from our faith in Jesus. It is Jesus who summons us to leave behind our old ways, who teaches us the ways of heaven and with great confidence entrusts us to pass on to our families the beauty of the Christian life. In Jesus we find revealed all we need for our imaginations to take off.
Pope Francis said that our families will be strong edifices of love if they are built on beauty, goodness and truth. He said beauty is the path that leads to God. Where there is beauty, goodness and truth are close behind. These three transcendent qualities of God are always present together.
The imagination is the receptor of beauty. So maybe that's why the imagination is the greatest nation.
Not too long ago I heard an interview with John O'Donohue, the Irish poet. He spoke of the imagination and the landscape of beauty. He said that often times people comment that they have no imagination. Not true, O'Donohue replied, we are all ex babies.
Let's activate our imaginations and go to the land of make believe often. Let's fill it with acts of love and paint the landscape with the living words spoken by our Holy Father. Maybe, just maybe, we shall experience a bit of heaven on earth and more importantly, we will find a way to contribute to the creation of a better world for our grandchildren.