Splashing in the Stars

The grass was crunchy. It reminded her of a bunch of old grandpas, all cracking their backs in unison with every step she took. They looked like grandpa grasses too. Brown, withered, and seemed to know something you didn’t. They were grasses that scolded you for not wearing shoes and snickered at you when you stepped on a pebble. As she walked the three miles to the schoolhouse, she found herself talking to the grasses and telling them all the things she couldn’t tell her friends. Or her mama. Only the grasses and God could know. And she liked it that way.
School was already out for the summer, even though it was May. All the other kids helped their families on the farm, but she came to the schoolhouse instead. Sometimes she sat on the steps and watched the grandpas get tickled by the wind. Sometimes the door was mysteriously unlocked, and she went inside and bathed herself in words and numbers and questions. They were saturated in the air, all these words. Words that came together in a million different ways and bounced off the roof and into her mind, making her imagination chug like a train down a track around the world. She had never left her little home town of Hemingford, Nebraska, but she didn’t need to. Words took her to every galaxy she wanted to go.

Sometimes, I just sit and wonder. Usually looking out of a car window, or right before I go to bed, or at random moments throughout my day when I think I can dazzle up the situations around me, add some embellishments to the truth that cuts me to the core sometimes.

When we take the five hour road trip to visit grandma and papa in Chadron, Nebraska, we drive past vacant fields of corn, wheat, and plain old prairie. These are forgiving fields; they let you cry at them and yell at them and laugh at them and sigh at them. They just keep on waving at you, untroubled and nonchalant, whispering the question of why you’re so uptight in this blissful world we live. Even though I have sparkling dreams of living in a big city someday, there’s something so consoling about being in an open prairie with potbelly clouds wafting in the infinite sky above. I think we all have an exploited, materialistic disease that only the prairie can cure.

Along this relinquishing drive, we go past an old, abandoned schoolhouse that sits content in the middle of nowhere. Last time when we were driving home over Thanksgiving, I begged my dad to let us stop. For all the many many trips we’ve taken to Chadron, I’ve see this schoolhouse and my imagination always goes full speed in my mind, thinking of the kinds of people who might’ve been in that house and what they would’ve said, done, and even worn. Back when I was seven I came up with names for the people and imagined detailed aspects of their daily lives (Callie wore a blue dress and rode a white horse named Magical and she lived next to a boy named Joseph who had a crush on her 🙂

When we stopped in the house for the very first time, I was expecting to see what I had imagined over all the years. But it wasn’t quite the same (shocker!) I carefully climbed the steps (that were literally about to collapse) and braced myself for, well, I don’t know. I stepped in and spotted an old decaying piano in the far corner, a bright blue chipping roof, and benches lined up facing what looked like a stage. Huh. It was beautiful in a grotesque kind of way.

As it turns out, I did a little research because I’m oh-so fascinated with this little schoolhouse looking building. Well, I guess you could call it research, but it’s more like looking up what few pictures of it are out there and reading what the photographers had to say about it. One random guy who lives near it claims it to be an old German dance hall. Since absolutely everything in the internet is 100% true all the time, I believed it. It made sense, a German dance hall in the middle of nowhere! It’s actually pretty cool to think about. Now my imagination train can get a whole different track and chug from a new station.

Sometimes, I think we need to let our minds do some imagining. Just like we need to take a break from work every few hours, our minds need to breathe sometimes. Whether it be memories that swim around in our minds (squirting our hearts while they do it) or completely dreaming up new scenarios, our minds thirst for an opportunity to dance in the buzzing monotony of our cell phone screens. And when we let our minds quietly spin around the galaxies, God takes that opportunity to imagine right along with us. He picks us up and does the waltz with us through the stars. We fearlessly plunge into the Milky Way, splashing stars around like a puddle. God wants to imagine with us. He wants us to take the time to be free and let our unique dreams surface in the muddy waters of the world. Our thoughts are beautiful to Him. Priceless. Worth dying for. We don’t even understand the potential of them, and the love and interest God takes in them. We must dream and let God’s love stir our imaginations.

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