On Imagination, Inspiration, and Transcendence

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Richard Lewis is a brilliant educator who has spent more than 50 years awakening, deepening, and using experiential learning to nurture the child’s natural capacity of Imagination. Listen to his podcast, #25, on Meetings with Remarkable Educators. It’s guaranteed to stimulate your imagination as well.


Natural Learning Relationships, the holistic appreciation of child development championed by Josette and me, holds imagination in high regard. Imagination is operative and creative throughout life; yet it is its moment of dominance during 8 to 12 years of age. We call that stage FeelingBeing and in FeelingBeing Imagination, Inspiration, and Transcendence from a trinity of optimal well-being and spiritual growth for the child.

FeelingBeing is the least understood of all the life stages. Perhaps the least understood aspect of FeelingBeing is its capacity to be inspired, and once truly inspired, to feel transcendence. Imagination is the natural capacity to form new ideas, images, or actions not present to the sense. Inspiration refers to creativity and appreciation of the sacred. Transcendence means lying beyond the ordinary range of perception. FeelingBeing children, then, have the capacity feel beyond themselves, beyond typical material perceptions, and into the subtle connections that all life shares.


To illustrate, here is a story of the great, great philosopher, humanist, and spiritual sage Martin Buber. This story shows the feeling basis of his profound insight into the sacred nature of relationship. Those familiar with Optimal Parenting know that I used Buber’s I-Thou philosophy to describe the spiritual development of children.


When I was 11 years of age, spending the summer on my grandparent’s estate, I used, as often as I could do it unobserved, to steal into the stable and gently stroke the neck of my darling, a board dapple-grey horse. . . . What I experienced in touch with the animal was the Other, the immense otherness of the Other, which, however, did not remain strange like the otherness of the ox and the ram, but rather let me draw near and touch it. . . something that was not I, was certainly not akin to me . . . and yet it let me approach, confided itself to me , , , placed itself. . . in the relation of Thou and Thou with me . . . The horse, even when I had not begun by pouring oats for him into the manger, very gently raised his massive head . . . But one . . . it struck me about the stroking, what fun it gave me, and suddenly I became conscious of my hand. . . . It was no longer the same thing.



Growing our Imagination is Powerful

by: Josette Luvmour with excerpts from the Richard Lewis interview 11/27/18

The man who has no imagination, has no wings.

~ Muhammad Ali

 
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The innate ability to imagine influences everything we do, think, dream, and create. Richard Lewis has worked in public schools for over 50 years to bring forth the incredible natural ability of imagination in children and adults. Moreover, he attracts a multi-talented group of artists to help him in this important work. Working with children from the youngest (in kindergarten) to the oldest (even adults), he said,

…the imagination is a natural act of being. It's not a segment of thought, but it might be the very nature of thought itself. And if that's the case, then it opens up a whole level of thinking by the child to see that they have a sense of control, a sense of empathy with their imaginative life.


A hidden gem in Richard’s interview is when he talks about teacher workshops in which he uses the same process that he uses with children to re-activate their adult imaginations. In his interview, Richard showed us how adults develop and grow beyond their fears. He said,


In the same way that the child is afraid, the adult is often afraid.

…sometimes they [teachers] get so excited. … that we can't stop them. It's almost as if they've rediscovered their own marvelous sense of childhood and it’s a way of perceiving.

I always comment on that and I say, "Well in a way it's that the link to childhood doesn't end. It's a continuous process." So that even though you were perhaps put in a position where you were being asked a question that I asked of children, that your ability to visualize and to imagine is still there, and it's still as powerful as ever as it was in childhood.


In my life, I have held many positions from mother, to teacher, program director, teacher-trainer, professor, and board member (to name a few). The job was always more interesting and fulling the more I allowed myself freedom to express my imagination.  Engagements that invigorate my imagination these days include my hobbies of seamstress, garden-maven, and caring for my two creative and robust granddaughters. I’ll grant there are many mistakes but with imagination, turning mistakes into new creations is satisfying.

Our ability to be imaginative doesn’t have to diminish as we grow older. From the fields of academia, to business, to parenting or teaching, and to the arts, imagination is essential to the emergence of great ideas. Rediscovering our imagination can happen in our relationships with the children and grandchildren we play with, and that may help each new generation change the world. What about you guys? What do you do with your imagination?