Susan's Thursday morning note December 10, 2015 Imagination – 1897 New York Sun Editorial on “Is there a Santa Claus?”
Good morning! The winds have handed me a little bird nest on my sidewalk to gently bring inside this morning and set beside my coffee mug. I imagine the little family that lived in this dainty home. I imagine them seeing me coming and going. Singing to me with all their hearts as I entered my day. Singing to me with all their hearts as I came home. What were they singing? What was their story? What did they get to whisper to each other nestling in this little home each evening? Did my little friends imagine their lives differently? Did they imagine they were squirrels that could run to so quickly across the limbs? Did they imagine they were the hawks that could see so far? Did this particular little group of friends imagine they were the eagles they read about in their bedtime stories? Did my little songbirds imagine they could fly to the stars at night and sing to the entire world their song? What did they dream in this little nest? Only my angel of dawn peering into my windows knows those answers. And overlooking her shoulder is another little songbird. My winter friend. Greeting the day in his new winter nest I can see suspended above. Encouraging me to enter this beautiful day. To imagine I am a little bird with them. Singing. Seeing the beauty of life. Flying. Flying to the heavens and letting my friends below see that there is so much beauty if we lift our heads to the skies.
This week I read an editorial written by a Civil War Correspondent to a little 8-year old girl writing the New York Sun’s editorial staff. The response from this correspondent on the beauty of imagination captured me. I have written out the entire letter back to this child and then follow this with quotes on the beauty of imagination. On keeping what little children are able to do so well. Imagine what is unseen to the eyes. Imagine to offset their realities. The ability to add an entire dimension to their perspectives on what their ordinary day brings. Adding the magic of their minds.
Editorial Page, New York Sun, September 21, 1897
Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.” Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while…It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain
“Where beams of imagination play, the memory’s soft figures melt away.” Alexander Pope
“Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.” Lauren Bacall
“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe I them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott
“The man who cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.” Andre Breton
“Children see magic because they look for it.” Christopher Moore
“The possible’s slow fuse is lit by the Imagination.” Emily Dickinson
“It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
“But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.” John Keating
“We should use our imagination more than our memory.” Shimon Peres (Israeli President)
“I begin by imagining the impossible and end by accomplishing the impossible.” Sri Chinmoy
“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” Joseph Joubert
“Trapped by reality, freed by imagination.” Nicolas Manetta
Today. This moment. Not a dream. Not my imagination. But in this real world I will try to remember to constantly see what I cannot see. To look now at my little singing winter bird, to now hear in his song his words that he is flying with the angels. I will easily imagine to help my realities be not the only part of my day. Imagine what I know to be true. See the magic the little children are truly seeing. Hear the bells the children are really hearing. Dance with the fairies the children are dancing with. Fly with the little winter birds into the stars. Imagine voices on the other end of the telephone I no longer get to tangibly hear. To look across the room and see the eyes of those I no longer get to see. To hear the trumpet music in the room that I can no longer hear. To look across the yard and find myself in the north woods hearing loons. To look up to the blue skies and see myself overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I want to look into my soul. Imagination is my eye. I am ready for the adventure. Come this season and enter the world of our children. See Santa. See the angels. Hear the music. See the little baby. See the Christmas star. Imagine holding the star in our hands. The star is being handed to us by the angel. Can we see this scene? It is there. For us if we will become children. Blessed are they children. For they see God.
Thank you for letting me enter your world again today. I hope you can enter our store in your reality soon. We will have the coffee, the smiles, a real world you can enter to find friends. How sweet it is to see you walking out with cookie crumbs on your lips, peace on your face, packages of gifts you are excited to give, and a book that may hold words that will change the rest of your life. Continue to dream with me. To imagine. To let fairy dust land in front of us. In Louisa May Alcott’s words, ““Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe I them, and try to follow where they lead.” Susan
Latin for this week: imago – an image or a picture imaginandi vis res vincit veras – imagination conquers reality imaginatio – imagination imaginari – to picture