_“Imagination is not something apart and hermetic, not a way of leaving reality behind; it is a way of engaging reality.”
—Irving Howe _
Teacher Ming and I had just finished helping the third and fourth graders at a nearby government school finish their math and English homework as the afternoon dismissal bell rang loudly across the campus. Grabbing their books and backpacks, the students respectfully took their leave in the traditional Thai fashion with folded hands and a slight bow of the head. When all the students were gone, I locked the door to the school library where we had been studying. Just then, I heard small footsteps coming up behind me.
“Teacher, I have something for you.”
Turning around, I looked down into the face of a preschool-age boy wearing a blue apron over his uniform as young Thai school children typically do.
“Teacher, here is a seed.”
I knelt as the boy took my hand and carefully placed the brown and black seed in the center of my palm.
“You can plant this seed in the ground. Then water it every day, and a tree will grow up.”
“Thank you for sharing the seed with me,” I said. “If I plant the seed, how tall will the tree grow? Maybe one meter tall?”
“Could the tree grow 10 meters tall?”
“Oh yes, Teacher, it could.”
“Could the tree grow 100 meters tall?”
The boy’s eyes grew wide.
“Yes, Teacher, it could.”
“Wow! Could I climb the tree right up to heaven?”
The boy’s eyes grew even wider. Looking to one side, he seemed to ponder my question for a moment before replying. “Yes, Teacher. You could climb right up to heaven.”
Engaging children’s imagination and creativity is an important part of the work we do in our community. It is our hope and prayer that the seeds we plant in children’s hearts will grow into mighty trees point to heaven.