Mrs Kepps and the Invisible Sheep
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were little? Or more than one?
My imaginary friend was Mrs Kepps. It is not that I really ever played with her – I just knew all about her: how she was, whether she was in hospital or out of hospital. She wore peep-toe slip on slippers that were pink with a feathery pom-pom on each. She was often in hospital, in a white bed in a ward with cheerful yellow walls.
I’ve enjoyed my children’s imaginary friends better. We had a flock of imaginary sheep for a while. They lived in the garden and were occasionally herded into an old and quite-substantial fire-guard. You could feed them, herd them, lose them and find them. Hours of fun.
We also had another friend – who belonged to one of my daughters. He lived in and around her feet, particularly at bath time. And he was with us a long time, but no longer. I miss Yoko.
I asked my fb friends about their childhood imaginary friends, and a question was raised about the place of imagination in religion – to what extent is Jesus an imaginary friend? Could be an interesting debate. But it all depends on whether or not Jesus is imaginary. As we “know” Jesus was a historical person – but his relationship with Christians in the present day – is that pure imagination?
Of course I don’t think so, although I do use my imagination in my faith.
For example, when I decided to become a Christian I imagined, very vividly, that my life was like a rickety bicycle, with me on it – and I was juddering down a hill, over bumpy ground, with my hands vibrating on the handlebars, almost losing grip. I imagined, as I prayed, that Jesus would take control, and I imagined this pair of big strong arms coming over my shoulders and putting their hands over mine and helped me to steady the bike and pedal along evenly.
But I am a big fan of metaphors, and I suppose they take imagination, even if they are visual, as in this case. Even though the metaphor is imagined, I don’t suppose that has a bearing on the reality of the abstract concept it is there to make comprehensible.
There’s a quote I found interesting from “House”:
House: “You talk to God, you’re religious. God talks to you, you’re psychotic.”
Having imaginary friends, if my straw poll on fb last night is anything to go by, is extremely normal. This is a relief. I just wish Mrs Kepps had had a more active role, rather than a kind of distant one.
She’s fine, by the way. She’s just bought some new slippers. Slightly pinker than her usual ones.