Spiritual Discipline for Social Distancing: Sacred Imagination by Pastor Anna

What Is It?

Sacred Imagination is a form of meditation from St Ignatius Loyola, a 16th century Catholic priest and founder of the Jesuit religious order. The use of Imagination was very important to Ignatius: he began using this practice when he was bedridden from injuries sustained in battle.

Why Should I Try It?

  • Builds familiarity with the Bible

  • Engages the mind/imagination

  • Engages the five senses and prevents distraction

How Do I Do It?

  1. Pick an action story from the Gospels: it is suggested to choose a story in which Jesus is doing something rather than preaching or teaching.

  2. Invite God to be present with and to guide you. Quiet your mind, breathe deeply.

  3. Imagine yourself in the scene. Make a note of what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. What time of day is it? Is it hot or cold? What does the ground feel like underneath you? Who is there around you and what are you doing? What can you reach out and touch with your hands?

  4. Take the perspective of one of the characters in the scene. It can be someone significant, like one of the disciples, or an onlooker (personally, I find that option more interesting). What is this person feeling? Thinking? Doing?

  5. Continue the exercise until the end of the scene. Bring yourself back to the present moment. How do you feel? Did this exercise change the way you read the Scripture?

Your Turn

Try Sacred Imagination for yourself! Here is a passage to start with.

Mark 5:21-43 (NRSV)

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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Helena United Methodist Ministries

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