Using Our Imagination in The New Year
Years ago, my late cousin talked to me about all of the woes her family had faced over the years and enumerated all of their current ones.
She paused and asked me, "Do you think a family can be cursed?"
That's not the only time I've been asked that question or others like it.
It's easy for many of us to wonder if we're being punished somehow, cursed in some way, or have managed to incur the wrath of God when it seems as though nothing seems to go right for us.
But if we have the courage to be honest with ourselves and look back on our past without donning rose-colored glasses, we'll see that most of the things on our litany of sorrows can be laid at our doorstep.
One of the many things that keep us from being our best and most authentic selves is our inability to imagine being able to do life differently and become the people we are meant to be.
My cousin couldn't imagine a better life that wasn't mired in trouble and didn't leave her bemoaning her fate. Even though she wished things could be different for her, she couldn't imagine it, which is entirely different.
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote something incredibly insightful about imagination's role in living a life of wholeness:
Imagination is largely a matter of being able to re-image life in new ways. It is not to be caught or trapped in old images of hopelessness. When we’re trapped in old images, we keep living out of them, fighting against them, resisting them, and even saying they don’t work. But it seems we are incapable oftentimes of creating or even accepting new images and living out of those new images.
When we cannot imagine ourselves living lives of wholeness, pursuing God's purpose with joy and abandon, and becoming the people we long to be, we get stuck and are unable to re-image life in new ways.
We then find ourselves railing against our circumstances, struggling against all the things that aren't working for us, and never really taking responsibility for our actions that got us there.
And never imagining anything better.
This new year we can use our imagination in productive and generative ways. We can imagine a new life and new beginnings. We can dream bigger dreams--God-sized dreams, in fact.
We can finally let go of our past and any notions of being cursed or punished because God doesn't work that way. God wants us to live bigger, to find happiness, and to become our best.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever. Amen.