A few months ago, my family and I went to see a movie in the theater.
Growing up, going out to see a movie was a magical experience, for a few reasons:
- We didn’t go to see very many movies, so when we did it was a treat!
- Popcorn…slathered in butter…pure decadence…
- The enormous screen. These were the days before 55 inch 4K ultrahigh definition televisions were even a whisper of a shadow of a dream.
Now that I’m an adult, I sometimes go to more movies in a month than I went to see in an entire year as a child.
And I can buy movie-theater butter popcorn that I can pop in my microwave.
And I’m never more than a few clicks of my smart TV’s remote away from watching tons of movies on Netflix.
But when I went with my family to that theater a few months ago, I again had a magical movie experience. No, we weren’t seeing the latest Marvel superhero movie (although those do tend to be wicked awesome!), we saw a movie from a different Disney franchise.
It was…Mary Poppins Returns!
Seriously! Sometimes we say that something, “Made me feel like a child again,” but this movie didn’t just make me feel like a child again, I actually was a child again! I was a child again, mesmerized by the fantastical mixture of live action and animation that so captured my imagination when I saw the original Mary Poppins 30ish years ago.
However, there was one thing that jumped out at me about this movie, one thing that I consciously realized that I probably wouldn’t have if I had watched this as a child. I realized that Mary Poppins was helping the Banks children process complex emotions about grief and greed through their imaginations.
I think that we adults often forget this. Kids do it all the time, playing with legos, playing with dolls, playing with pieces of paper that are actually racecar spaceships that can transform into lions.
Our imaginations are incredible tools to help us work through the ‘stuff’ in our lives. And this is one of the huge gifts of playing Dungeons and Dragons. It is a game of imagination, and not just our individual imaginations, but our communal imagination as a group comes together to create and inhabit whole new worlds. These are worlds where the fantastical is ordinary, where a well-timed joke can be as effective as the mightiest swing of a warhammer, and where players have the chance to live into a new reality.
I’m looking forward to our upcoming Pastors and Dragons: An Adventure of Spiritual Imagination retreat, where we will have the opportunity to exercise our communal imaginations for the sake of ourselves, our ministry settings, and the world. Who know what dreams and visions may come from this experience? When imagination is involved, the sky’s the limit! (Well, maybe the Elemental Plane of Air is the limit…or would it be the Ethereal Plane?…the Astral Plane?…)