I just spent the morning on a beautiful island eating very juicy oranges and sipping tea. All of this was done on my living room floor with my granddaughter. She is just learning the power of pretend. We laughed and giggled as the imaginary oranges squirted all over us. As I watched the light in her eyes as she figured out this pretend game, I thought of all the other places she will imagine in her lifetime.
Practicing imagination is a wonderful contemplative practice. I know I have spoken about the power of the moment and getting real as contemplative practices, yet giving oneself permission to imagine possibilities is also a great practice. The imagination can lead one to a bigger picture of God, life, and community. For example, one may say God is male, judgmental, or disappointed. Maybe the vision is there is no time for prayer, life is stuck or things could never improve. This is where the gift of the imagination is a Godly pursuit. Think of Martin Luther King saying, “I have a dream.” What if one’s imagination could allow for a kind, beyond gender, forgiving God? The contemplative imagination allows one to sit in a pretend world where one can find the time to pray, where life is full of possibilities beyond what is happening. Who know where it can lead? It also gives the space to try out life in a different way without having to upend everything.
The imagination is a very powerful prayer practice, not to be taken lightly, because it can also lead into places of limits and lack of possibility. When the time of imagining is over, the individual is different, whether the circumstances change or not. The door to life as it is known is open because one has seen it. Then comes the work in the real world. How does this time of pretend make its way into this life? How does imagining a more loving world help one create a more loving world? How does imagining a bigger God help one begin to examine the God they are encountering now?
My time this morning on the island has created a connection and a memory with my granddaughter that will continue to shape our lives together. The world just got a little bigger for both of us. Where do you go in your imagination? How can the power of pretend be a prayer practice for you?