Friday, November 11, 2016
Imagination doesn’t always come easy. It is often the first thing that is diminished when we are feeling anxious. What I mean by imagination is the ability to see - to see not only with our eyes but also inwardly - intuitively. I don’t mean the kind of day dreaming “pie in the sky” imagination, but the kind of imagination that helps us take notice and appreciate the places and people that surround us. Some might call it vision.
True imagination is connected to our relationships – to where we move and have our being. Wendell Berry makes the important observation that imagination has much to do with showing sympathy, affection and neighborliness. (From his 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Lecture, “It All Turns on Affection.”)
So in this way, imagination is about faith – clearly a particular way of seeing and being. We can say that imagination is a matter of the heart. And it can be difficult to measure. It is expressed in our calm affection for one another. It cultivates respect and mutuality. It is grounded. We can say that when we see with our mind’s eye what we might otherwise miss we are enlivened to move forward staying focused on what truly matters. To imagine faithfully is to live always with hope!
The Gospel reading for this weekend comes at the end of Luke. It deals with ultimate matters. It addressed a community of faith that found it hard to imagine the future. The nature of this kind of writing was meant to lift up, encourage and regain a confidence that God was ever present even if it didn’t feel that way. It did not deny the present reality but lifted sights to new horizons. It helped the faithful to press on attentive to a promise and a vision that showed a way forward.
Too often we dismiss the work of imagining because we think it is impractical. But in fact it is one of the most practical things we ought to be doing. Can we see the church as a listening point for the sake of understanding and creativity? Can we trust that the Spirit can weave the many strands of community into a fabric of wholeness – serving as a witness to the world of what is possible?