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When You See Life’s Harsh Realities, Imagine Better

In the last few weeks, I have been taken with the photography of Matej Peljhan. In particular, his most recent collection, which he has titled “Le Petit Prince” based on the famous French book “The Little Prince” written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
“The Little Prince” tells the story of a pilot and a young boy, both extremely creative, and includes some incredible commentary on life, relationships and the imagination.

The photography collection is of a 12-year-old named Luke in different scenes he has created from his imagination, much like “The Little Prince,” except that Luke has muscular dystrophy.

This disease restricts his movement to small hand gestures, and he cannot bathe, dress or feed himself.

Luke has a wonderfully active imagination and spends a great deal of his day drawing what he imagines in his head – images of what his life could be if not bound by this wheelchair.

These include swimming in the deep ocean, playing basketball, listening to music like a normal teenager and skateboarding.

These are his dreams, even though he is well aware that his life will end sooner than later and most of these dreams will never become reality.

And then he met Peljhan, a photographer who saw some of these drawings of life beyond the wheelchair.

He felt a strong pull to somehow make these drawings as true as he could. This required imagination, a large white sheet and a change of perspective.

Each scene was created by laying Luke on the sheet, placing the appropriate props around him and then shooting the images from an aerial view.

The photographs are incredible. They offer a beautiful juxtaposition of imagination, creativity, dreams and someone who was willing to try and make another person’s dreams a reality – or as close as they could be to a reality.

The photographs can be viewed online here. Give yourself some time to look at the images and be deeply moved.

To me, this is such an incredible image of the incarnation, and our calling as the church to take this much bigger dream – the dream of God – and to make it a reality – or as close to a reality as we can here on our earth.

This means being a little bit more like this incredible young man, Luke, who had the ability to see his life beyond the limits of a wheelchair.

For us, this involves dreaming, imagining together and striving not to be limited by the reality that we see around us.

This means being a little more like the photographer, Peljhan, who was willing to think of taking the photographs from above the scene, to literally change his perspective, to make this reality come true.

For us, this would involve conversations about how we can help make God’s world a reality and what we have to change to do so.

It’s not an easy calling, but no one ever said it was (OK, some pastors have tried to sell that idea, but their ministry did not last long).

It’s our calling to see the world God has imagined for us and then to make it a reality. I have a feeling that when we finally get to that world, Luke is not going to be bound by his wheelchair anymore.

May we be so brave to imagine, create and make God’s dream a reality here.

Griff Martin is co-pastor of University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.