Blessed Imagination was conceived out of a desire to grow to God during the social distancing realities of COVID-19. As I searched for new ways to connect to my faith, I struggled to find a resource that authentically spoke to where I am in my journey of communicating with God. In that search, I ended up back at a place that has been a spiritual home for many years — Ignatian Spirituality.
St. Ignatius of Loyola and the spirituality that he inspired has been a source of nourishment to me for many years. Through his Spiritual Exercises he guides retreatants through four movements that invite the person to:
- Come to terms with who they are as one imperfect, yet deeply loved by God.
- Imagine where they are being called to join Jesus in building God’s Reign.
- Develop an understanding of how our calling means joining Jesus in his passion, crucifixion, and death.
- Experience the joy of a vocation born from love that is rooted in the joy of the resurrection.
Ignatius has the retreatant do this through a series of meditations and prayer practices rooted in use of the imagination both by creating non-biblical scenarios for the retreatant to imagine (such as conversing with Jesus, taking a God’s-eye view of creation, and following Jesus into battle) as well as imaginative immersion into various Gospel scenes. Through these experiences in prayer, the retreatant is meant to pay attention to what the experience of the prayer is like — to pay attention to what emotions arise, and what that says on a deeper level about the person and their relationship with God. Ignatius believes that using the imagination as a tool allows for the individual to listen better for the invitation that God is offering them in that moment.
In this podcast, we will be taking Ignatius’s lead in the second kind of imaginative meditation known both as “Composition of Place” meditations and as “Contemplations.” We will take a different Gospel passage each day, put ourselves into the shoes of a character within that scene, and really try to listen for what God has to say to each of us in that scene. In order to do this well, I think it is helpful to begin by truly attempting to engage all of the senses as you compose the given scene: What do you see? What do you hear? What are you feeling or touching? Do you smell or taste anything? These will give you a larger portal so that you can fully enter the scene at hand and to create the space for more meaningful engagement.
If this is a foreign practice to you or is difficult to you at first, that’s ok! I have found that in my own life of prayer that when I don’t put in the time to practice imaginative prayer that it can be difficult to jump right back into it. Using my imagination in prayer is like a muscle that needs to be flexed and worked out in order to be easy to activate when I want to use it at will. So, stick with it and hopefully it will come more easily to you as time goes on!
As I continue to work on this podcast, I hope to continue to connect listeners and readers with additional resources to help you in your journey of connecting with God through your imagination.
If you have any urgent questions or thoughts, please feel free to utilize the contact page!