Einstein famously said that: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

As a child I grew up on a farm and we were a poor family, we also had alcoholism and abuse in our home. We used our imagination daily and it became a necessity at times as powerful as faith. Imagination was a means of escape in certain situations also in problem solving.

When we did the chores outside my brother and I imagined our buckets of water or feed for the animals, were buckets filled with candy or money, many things that went along with the game we were playing that day. It helped the work of doing those chores every morning and night easier and go by quicker. We despised when Saturday came around as this was cleaning day, laundry, dusting, mopping, and when our mom did most of her baking or when we were going to be butchering chickens. My siblings and I would be shut up in our rooms to clean and we were always imagining we were someone else or somewhere else. There were times when mom would wonder what was taking us so long as we would get caught up in the imaginary world we had created, this got us into some trouble at times. When things broke down on the farm, there was no running to a store to purchase new items, it was looking around with what we had for tools and items that could be salvaged and created into what we could use. I remember the sheep kept jumping out of a certain spot in their pen. My mom took wood pallets wired them together, braced with a few metal poles and created new fencing to keep them from getting out. She did this quite often on the farm when it came to building pens or cages for all the animals, she was creative, and problem solved. Mom even made both me and my sister matching cribs, highchairs and strollers out of wood for our baby dolls and even made most of their clothes or blankets.

My mother inspired and even encouraged imagination with us. Being poor we didn’t have the means to acquire certain luxuries like other kids we went to school with, who had video games, board games, radios with cassette players in their rooms or even a VHS player with movies to watch when


you were bored. Mom was very creative and taught us games using yarn entwined in our fingers, that you and another had to grab certain strands to pull to our own hands like an intricate spider web and keep it going back and forth with a partner. We created our own board games even and if we couldn’t find dice, we used a deck of cards to know how many times we needed to move our pieces. When the holidays came, like Christmas we made ornaments out of everyday objects, even making gifts for each other. Valentines Day when we had to exchange at school a card and candy with classmates and the teacher, my mom helped us make our own Valentines using wax paper and melting old crayons inside and attaching a ribbon or yarn to it and then personalizing it with glue and glitter or just using a sharpie pen. Even when Halloween rolled around, we would work with mom in creating our costumes. This unique gift and ability helped us as we became older in doing school projects for homework, we thought out of the box utilizing everyday items. And when any of us kids struggled with a certain subject or an assignment, our mom got creative in helping us understand what it was that was challenging us to help us relate better and ultimately retain the information easier. We were kicked out doors no matter what the weather was and for hours we would build forts in the shelter belt behind our house, some were igloos in the winter, teepees and some were imagined even to be mansions. Everything we found had a purpose as we filled our forts, old crates and barrels became furniture, old bottles or cans became dishes and dirt and gravel became mud pies.

My mom was an artist and used her imagination in drawing, painting, writing and later in life photography, thus my siblings and I all acquired many of those same talents for ourselves. Utilizing many of them as teenagers and as we became adults, some of those talents drifted from each of us a bit but also embraced in new ways.

All of the situations of my childhood whether good or bad, I know there were life lessons being taught by my mother. I, of course, did not understand this as a child but now as an adult, and


having a family, raising my own children I have used that same imagination, to create, to problem solve, to have compassion and to discipline, to be unrelenting, challenging and inspiring, to frame how I wanted my own children to look at the world and how to deal with life in every situation they would encounter.

See we imagine everyday something, but do we act on it? We imagine having more money, to pay bills, make a better life for ourselves and our family. We may even imagine with more money how we could fulfill the need to help others financially. Strangers battling cancer or undergoing major surgeries without the ability to pay for the treatment. A devastating fire or flood that has taken away their home, destroyed every precious belonging they have.

We imagine a better job a profession where we feel we are appreciated more, have control over our scheduled hours, where we aren’t slowly losing our minds due to overwhelming stress and punishing our bodies through the physical demand of hard labor crippling it over time.

We imagine our children or grandchildren not having the same struggles we endured growing up. We imagine a home filled with love, humor, respect and encouragement between parents and children. Where alcoholism or drug addiction, abuse physical and mental don’t exist. There is food in the cupboards and refrigerator, hot water and heat during cold days. Rodents and infestations aren’t rampant, and children aren’t left alone to raise themselves.

We imagine our communities safe without shootings, homelessness, prostitution, assaults and theft. We imagine our schools secure and our children being challenged everyday to learn. To achieve successes and to learn to be humble when there are failures.


We imagine a world where our nation and all countries have religious freedom, where a man or woman’s character and actions defines who they are and not the color of their skin. Where the labeling of classes, gender, sexuality, racism, and political party are not the vice that divides us all but the glue that bonds us together.

In the face of trouble do you confront the dilemma and challenge yourself to attack it head on or do you close your eyes to it ever existing and ignore it in hopes that it will disappear? Do you view the world in only black or white, or do you see the many shades of gray, light and dark that fall in between? Imagination is as powerful as your faith, that can inspire change if you are willing to embrace it.

In an age when things seem to be going from bad to worse, perhaps we need to engage the heart as much as the head. Love, mercy, compassion…forgiveness. Are these qualities now moot….irrelevant? We are better than this. We need to provoke and inspire others and find our purpose. Not only looking through the lens and imagining a picture of solidarity and compassion but capturing the photograph of change itself.

In the words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one…. Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us, only sky, imagine all the people living for today….Imagine”