Reflection 1 A Daily Grace Called Imagination
(These reflections are offered to encourage you, God’s people, full of the Holy Spirit, to ‘do theology’ with your ‘sensus fidelium’ – that is with your own innate and graced wisdom. They focus on some theological intuitions and spiritual explorations to help you form a truer foundation for falling in love with God all over again. And to prepare us for the shape of tomorrow’s faith. In the light of a healing theology of nature and grace, and as scientific revelations bless the earth each day, this exercise of exploring and speculating will have huge and illuminating implications for the future heart of our Church, our faith, our children and ourselves. Daniel O’Leary 2018)
Question: Who made the World? Answer: God made the World.
To believe this requires as much imagination as faith! Indeed faith without imagination is impossible. To believe that God exists, that God created the world, and everything in it, that God is the energy that makes all evolution possible, that God became a small baby and that we can now receive that God in entirety in a piece of bread whenever we like – one needs a lively imagination to believe all of that!
When the planets have all been charted and occupied, the mysteries of God unveiled; when the wisdom of the wise has left no more questions and . . . when all the exploring, discovering, inventing and dreaming are completed, when the maps of life are spread out across the fields of eternal evolution, and the full story of a trillion years of creation is spoken out for the first time, it will be finally clear that all growing is God’s growing, that all healing is God’s healing, that every age was an age of love.
Stanley Spencer wrote, ‘Love is the essential power in the creation of art . . . It establishes, once and for all time, the final and perfect identity of every created thing.’
And David Hockney has said that ‘All art, all creativity, comes from love.’
Without imagination faith is dead
We are at the edge of a significant threshold, even a radical one, in our understanding of the Christian faith. These decades are giving rise to opportunities for a deeper grasp of humanity and Christianity not possible in the past. At last our imagination is being stirred. I see three reasons for this unique threshold-moment. One is the rediscovery of a theology of nature and grace, where the story of a ‘fall’ is radically re-drafted . And that has profound implications for a spirituality of the human heart. Another is the sweeping change in our understanding of creation and evolution in the ever-increasing flow of knowledge coming to us from scientific experiments and wisdom. And the third window of wonder is the vision, insights and experiences of God’s people, particularly of women, as their voices are at last being heard regarding their intuitive and natural experience of God in their lives.
Overall, the long-awaited understanding I refer to has to do with what we call ‘the catholic imagination’, that is, in part, the grace that enables us to see into the heart of everything and discern there the heart of God. The blessed capacity to see and recognise the divine features in all our experiences belongs to a revealed way of perceiving daily life also called ‘the sacramental vision’.