Everyday spiritual practices ground us in our connection with God. Spiritual practices work to maintain our faith in God and bring greater peace and calm in the business of life. They help us to feel a deeper connection with the Holy Spirit and remind us to direct our lives toward God. They also have the ability to develop mindfulness, which can carry over into the rest of our lives. However, it is not always easy to make our spiritual practices a habit. Therefore, it is important to form practices that are interesting and engaging to help turn those great ideas into consistent habits. One creative spiritual practice that keeps me engaged is imagining scenes from the Bible.
Imagining scenes from the Bible taps into creative forces in order to connect with Jesus in a new way. The use of imagination to connect with the Bible actually utilizes the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this practice you envision a scene from the Bible as fully as possible. St. Ignatius Loyola developed this spiritual practice as one of his exercises to deepen one’s spiritual life. It is sometimes called Biblical meditation or gospel contemplation. The aim is to take in a whole scene from one passage in the gospel. What is going on in the scene? Use your imagination to access what it would smell like, look like or sound like. What is your experience of Jesus in the scene? You can take part in the scene as one of the characters, as an onlooker or even as Jesus himself.
Imagining scenes form the Bible, allows us to connect to Jesus in a deeper way, as we come to know him more intimately.
Begin by choosing one passage from the gospel. Create a space of connection through prayer, intention and connect with your heart. Then read the passage, maybe two or more times, to become familiar with the scene and its details. Then sit quietly and imagine the scene yourself. Tap into your creativity and imagination and fully engage in the scene. Finally, end the exercise by taking time to conclude with prayer. Connect with Jesus over what you have just experienced. Through this intimate connection, you may have new insights into Jesus’ profound love.
As an example, think of the scene of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, found in John chapter 4. Jesus sits by a well after a long journey. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water and he asks her for some water. She is confused because she doesn’t understand why a Jew is asking a Samaritan woman for water (as it was not the practice at the time for Jews to interact with Samaritans). He tells her that he is the living water. Still not fully understanding, she expresses that she knows the Messiah is coming. Jesus then tells her, “I am He.” Reflect on this whole scene. Imagine what it might have been like to be this Samaritan woman, confused by the request and confused by this new stranger.
Imagine all the senses of the interaction. What does it smell like? How does the heat of the day feel? What does it feel like to draw the water from the well? Is she scared by the interaction or relieved? What does it feel like to have received this message from Jesus, that He is the Messiah? In order to fully engage in the story, take time to imagine all the parts of the scene. Then ask yourself, how does this leave you feeling? How has this changed your understanding of Jesus and your connection?
Imagining scenes from the Bible is an engaging and creative way to develop your spiritual life. Through the use of imagination, we can come to connect with Jesus in a more intimate and real way. We can gain new insights into Jesus’ profound love. Gospel imagination helps to connect us with a spiritual practice that is revealing and insightful. Engaging in these spiritual practices allows us to connect with Jesus in new and profound ways.