So often, when we think about our imagination and using it, we think about creating something like some of artwork or creative writing. We think of works of art that we see in museums, galleries, or hear at poetry readings, writing exchanges, or even at comedy nights at local clubs. We tend to think of things that occur with some sort of external presence we have experienced or witnessed. However, as I have been thinking about imagination one last time this month, I began to think about how we can use our imagination as a way of experiencing compassion for others in all aspects of our life or even gaining a deeper understanding of any sacred texts, which are a part of one’s faith tradition.
What if we imagined the Divine in everyone and every situation that we met? What if we imagined the Divine in the person who just took “our” parking spot? What if we imagined the Divine in the person who got “our” job? What if we imagined the Divine in the person who empties our trash at work? What if we imagined the Divine in the coffee maker and the vending machine? What if we imagined that the Divine is in the spreadsheet and the power lunch we have in an hour? What if we imagined that the Divine is the mistakes we made this morning and in the mess, we are cleaning up as a result? What if we imagined the Divine in the situation that does not seem to be changing and in the time we spend waiting for the answer to our prayers to come? If the Divine is ever present, then the Divine is present in all of this and more. So what if we imagined the Divine in everything.
St Ignatius taught about this in his spiritual exercises. He challenged his followers to use their imagination to breathe life into the sacred texts and into our relationship with the Divine. For example, one of his exercises was to imagine ourselves seeing the world through the eyes of the Divine. What does God see looking at this turbulent world? How does this help us imagine taking on qualities of the Divine such as love, compassion and understanding? Another suggestion was to imagine ourselves within a sacred text. For example, if we took the scripture about Jesus speaking to a blind man at the side of the road, what would we imagine? Would we imagine feeling the hot Mediterranean sun beating down on us? Would we imagine the smell the dust kicked up as people passed by us? Would we imagine the way our clothes felt? Would we imagine feeling our body sweat? Would we imagine our hunger? Would we imagine the look on this man’s face? Would we imagine the sound of his voice? Would we note the irritation of the disciples who were standing there waiting? Would we imagine the way Jesus walked, gestured, looked at this man, or the expression on his face?
While I use a Christian scripture in the example above, you could select any sacred writing and imagine yourself in that space. As we journey through our lives, may we focus on seeing the Divine in everything and everyone and imagine ourselves being the Divine in that situation. Just as we imagine ourselves as the characters in a novel, may we imagine ourselves in the sacred writings, which resonate with our soul