Imagining the Nativity
This Advent, we have produced some extra Imaginative Contemplation exercises for marriage and family life. Whilst these resources are available for everyone, they are designed to be particularly effective as a way of fully entering into scripture reflectively, and then used as a springboard for discussion within couples and families. We hope however these will be widely used by all, whether single, married or otherwise.
The Gospels invite us to use our intellect and imagination to comprehend and even see what God is up to, especially in Jesus. St Ignatius is famous for encouraging us to use our imaginative senses to enter affectively into scripture. He wants us to be moved by it. Around this time of the liturgical year our focus turns to the birth of Jesus: God entering into the world with all its beauty and all its mess. Jesus isn’t up to doing much yet, but God is very much at work in the lives of all sorts of people around him. Sometimes they cooperate with God’s grace and sometimes they don’t. We can find ourselves in them.
Praying with the imagination means we put aside questions about historical certainty in the text, or the accuracy of what we are seeing in our minds eye. There is a time for those concerns but not here. We are invited into the stories as they are presented to us, and as they unfold in our own minds and hearts. We offer our faculties to God and ask the Holy Spirit to work with us.
Something of the dreaming of Joseph, visits of angels, and the dreaming of wise men is catching then. We allow ourselves to daydream - with a purpose, to receive God’s messengers, noticing God at work in a real and messy world, through people like ourselves, individuals, couples, families.
Each session will have its own suggested storyline and you are invited to imagine and reflect along with it. Though it might be that later you become the director of your own version of events, prompted by what is touching you most. Always spend more time where you are most moved because God is at work in those places. Your imagination may be operating visually, or with other senses, or you might enter intuitively and simply get a feel of what is happening. It is important to not try to force something, but to trust whatever comes for you.