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Blog Post #11: Pure Imagination! 

Imagination | Creator | Ignatian Contemplation | Imaginative Prayer

Friday, September 20, 2019 by Kristen (Kurivial) Hug

Imagination. It’s what God indulged to create the world and it’s what we can indulge to encounter Our Creator.

Have you ever heard of Ignatian Contemplation, also referred to as Imaginative prayer? It’s a prayer form made popular by St. Ignatius of Loyola, although it was in existence long before. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi was known for encouraging us to imagine ourselves in the cradle with the infant Christ. To look up into the faces of Mary and Joseph, to smell the fresh hay, and to smell some freshly excreted nuggets. My apologies if that's TMI, but let’s be honest, Jesus was real, the story is real, and the animals were real. If you want to imagine that the smells wafting around his cradle were those of roses, that would be an interesting observation to explore. In your imagination why couldn’t fowl smells accompany Jesus? This kind of reflection tells us a lot about how we view Jesus and how we can engage with Him.

And that’s exactly the invitation offered by Imaginative prayer! It’s the permission to release all our imagination has to offer when hearing the words of Sacred Scripture. The idea is to, literally, as St. Ignatius of Loyola says, compose the place by putting yourself in the scene and engaging the senses.

What sights do you see directly in front of you and off in the distance? Where is the story taking place? If it’s a dessert, are there cacti, is there an oasis far off? If it's the sea of Galilee, are you in the boat or standing on the shore?

What aromas are around you? Is it the smell of fragrant oil, fresh droppings, fish, sea salt, sweaty bodies?

What do you hear? The voice of Jesus, the noise of the crowd, a conversation among believers, the birds chirping, the waves lapping?

What do you taste? Wine? What kind? Bread? Is it stale or fresh?

What do you feel? Sand between your toes? The hot, beating sun on your face? Scratchy robes against your skin? The soft fur from the animals?

When you insert yourself into the story, it ceases to be a story, and instead, becomes an adventure! And let the adventure unfold, paying attention to what comes up. Who are you in the story? A disciple? An animal? What happens? Where is God trying to draw your attention? What lesson might He be trying to communicate solely to you? Allow God to work through your imagination.

If you ever thought prayer was boring, I hope this artistic and adventurous form will be the paradigm shift that opens your senses to all that the Scriptures and our Savior has to offer through the gift of your imagination.

P.S. If you need a little help entering in, I recommend listening to the song “Pure Imagination” From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as sung by Josh Groban and imagine that these words are being sung to you by Jesus. It’s a real treat! 

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