Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Big World, Little World

Last night George and I had brownies with vanilla ice-cream, fudge sauce, and fresh peaches for dessert. It was yummy, but the biggest treat was sharing it with Katelyn and her grandmother.

We've known Katelyn since she was two. Now she's a lovely 21-year-old who spent last spring in Florence, Italy studying art therapy. She's full of eager potential and a kind of trembling joy that comes with standing on the edge of a cliff and gazing into a wide-open future--knowing the time will soon arrive when she'll be forced to jump, but not knowing where she'll land.

In the course of our conversation Katelyn said, "I painted Grace and Luke in one of my projects. We had to represent the way we played as children, and I chose an imagination game we used to play called 'Big World, Little World.'" She explained that they'd gather at the base of a large tree in our yard. If they circled the tree one direction, everything in the world was small. Blades of grass were really trees. If they circled the tree the other direction, everything was big. Trees were blades of grass. Once they'd chosen a direction, they interacted with everything as though their play-world order were true.

I love so much about this glimpse into childhood imagination. This is how stories are born. One minute you're asking, "What if I walked around this tree and everything in the world became tiny?" Next you're writing a book like Gulliver's Travels. But, as big a fan as I am of imagination, I'm an even bigger fan of what it teaches me about truth.

Big World, Little World. We live in a big world where a young woman can spread her wings and fly away to study in distant lands. It's a little world where she once again finds herself seated at a kitchen table in East Texas with old friends.

It's a big world filled with millions of people and diverse cultures, customs, and languages. It's also a little world in a vast universe. The footstool of God.

It's a big world where we sometimes come around the corner to find our problems looming like giant redwoods.

It's a little world where a change in perspective reminds us our problems are really no bigger than blades of grass in the hands of an all-sufficient God.

I'd love to see Katelyn's painting. I'm sure it's as delightful as her sparkling eyes and disarming smile. I'm also sure she'll be an amazing art therapist when she launches out into this big, little world. Just thinking about her art has encouraged me.

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