Charleston: Imagination and the Spirit

“The light under the door to your mind is your imagination. It is always glowing, always searching for a new idea, always alive and energetic. If you want to enlighten your spiritual life, try the one channel of contact to the Spirit that is the most direct: use your imagination. The curious, playful, unlimited vision of what you can imagine is a hint of how the Spirit thinks. It is a point of contact for us because when we open ourselves up to thinking and seeing in new ways, we are stepping into a sacred process. If you want to find the Spirit, open the door.” —Bishop Steven Charleston Daily Facebook post (3/7/2019).

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Bishop Charleston affirms that using our imagination is one pathway to connecting to God. My experience is that my prayers are more meaningful if I imagine each of the people I am praying for sitting near me, or holding the hand of Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit. I am turning each of them over to our loving God, who is guarding and caring for them.

In the forgiveness prayer from Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., we imagine being with a person who has harmed us. We sit in a safe place, with God beside us, as we tell the person how he or she has hurt us; and then we hope we can say words of forgiveness. This is not a one-time prayer, but a practice we repeat over and over again in our own sacred space until we reach the place of forgiveness—with God by our side.

In Ignatian study of Scripture we imagine ourselves in the scenes of Jesus’ life when he was on earth. We join the crowd following Jesus. We may become the Samaritan woman he meets at noon. We may stand in the crowd at the foot of his cross as he is dying. We may be with the women who first discover he has risen.

In dream work we practice active imagination by conversing with people and images as they present themselves in our dream. In our imagination, these participants in the dream can tell us who they are and explain to us the parts of ourselves that they represent.

Anthony de Mello encourages us to make albums in our imagination of joyful times in our lives. Then we can come back to our album from time to time, especially in difficult times, to remember what we experienced. De Mello also believes that at the time of a past event we never appreciated its richness. Returning in our minds and actually “getting back” into the scene can bring even greater joy; and we may feel greater love than when an event first happened.

Imagination is one of our best spiritual practices.


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Book Signing Wordsworth Books

Saturday, November 2, 2019 1 to 3 pm

Just in time for the holidays

A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany

The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter

Both are $18. Money from sale of the books goes to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast