Going Deeper: The Gift of Imagination
Lent begins with the wilderness experience of Jesus. He goes out there for 40 days and eats and drinks little. After which, he is hungry. The devil sidles up to Jesus in his moment of weakness.
Matthew (4:1-11) introduces temptation two and three in this way:
The devil took Jesus to the holy city … the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain.
Note what is happening here. The demonic utilises the imagination.
Like our minds, wills, memories, emotions, etc., our imagination is a great gift. It can and should be used to help people, especially young people, to dream and desire what they would like to do with their lives and what type of people they would like to be.
In the moral life, too, the imagination is crucial. Things aren’t going so well at work with a work colleague, and so I use my imagination to construct imaginary conversations where I am kind and helpful to this person, so as to deepen our unity.
But, we are wounded through sin, and this includes our imagination. We have a tendency to go back over “spilt milk” and imagine that matters are far worse than they actually were – or are.
Equally, our imagination can run wild, dreaming up scenarios into the future that will most likely never happen. Mark Twain is supposed to have said that “He had many difficulties in life most of which never happened!”
Jesus puts a stop to the temptations with his mantra, “It is written.” Seemingly saying, “Let’s deal in reality, not fantasy.”
So, this Lent we might ask, “Am I using my imagination for good?” or “Might my imagination be using me?”