Reflection 3 Imagination is Everything

(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)

Imagination is the human capacity to perceive and receive what is before us, and find within it much more depth and meaning than the appearances would at first seem to allow. It creates new ways of comprehending ourselves and our world, of radically reflecting on personal, social and global issues, and on our fascination and attraction for the future. ‘Imagination’, wrote Albert Einstein, ‘is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions’.

Lack of imagination is the death-knell of institutions. It is also why we personally lose heart and diminish rather than grow. Our churches should be the guardians of imagination, knowing that creation and incarnation and the community of God’s people all issue forth from the divine imagination. Imagination is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, calling us out of ourselves, urging us to grow, flourish and create. We all need to lighten up, take the risks of change, forever reaching for what is beyond our grasp. ‘So throw off the bowlines,’ said Mark Twain, ‘sail away from the safe harbours. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Imagine. Dream.’

Curiosity is a wonderful grace. It is more than mere interest. It is what calls us to explore, what stirs possibility in us, what drives us to comprehend, what attracts us to mystery. Our curiosity, the mystics say, is God’s imagination incarnate. ‘Look up at the stars’, said Stephen Hawking at the Opening of the Paralympics Games in London 2012, ‘look up at the stars, and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.’ And sure enough, ‘Curiosity’ is the name the scientists gave the space-probe that landed so elegantly on Mars in 2012.