Welcome to the final installment of my Easter series, “Growing Your Soul: 7 Ways to Experience New Life During Easter,” drawing from my book, 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness. Today we explore the last tip: Unleash your imagination!
Following Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death, all hope was lost, as was epitomized by the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were overwhelmed with despair, so much so that they weren’t concerned with where to go (There was nothing to see or do in Emmaus.) as they were with where they needed to run away from, namely, Jerusalem. Until Jesus’ Death, Jerusalem was the locus of the fulfillment of their dreams, the place where God’s Kingdom would be established with Jesus sitting triumphantly “on the throne.” Now, they were in such despair with their dreams shattered that all they could think of doing was running away. And the despair was so pervasive that they could not even recognize the Risen Christ walking along with them on the road to Emmaus.
Despair is insidious. It robs one of the ability to imagine or to hope. It results in the ability to see only darkness. There are many things in our lives and in our world that can cause us to experience various levels of despair, some mild and some incapacitating: broken relationships, loss of employment, economic struggles, death of a loved one, dysfunctional families, illness or injury, violence, addiction, and so on. When we find ourselves in the depths of despair, we are often incapable of imagining a better future.
This is precisely why Christians are called to practice corporal and spiritual works of mercy—so that those suffering through hardships and the accompanying despair will be given some hope to hang on to as they seek to emerge from the darkness. Through works of mercy, we enable those in despair to imagine the possibility of a better future; we enable them to experience new life in the midst of death.
For ourselves and our own spiritual health, then, it behooves us to keep the flame of imagination burning at all times. Hope is simply the ability to imagine a better tomorrow. To be spiritually healthy, we need to unleash our imaginations and keep them stimulated. Imagination is not being out of touch with reality but is the ability to see reality as it is while also seeing another reality alongside or beyond it.
In 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness, I provide a list of activities that stimulate imagination:
- Turn off the TV.
- Read, especially fiction and biographies.
- Focus on humor.
- Draw or paint a picture.
- Peruse works of art.
- Work with your hands.
- Listen to music and sing when possible.
- Get a hobby.
- Get regular exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep.
- Break your patterns, and be illogical on occasion.
- Keep an idea notebook or write in a journal.
- Attend theater.
- Rearrange your workspace or living space.
- Do deep breathing.
- Learn a new language.
- Associate with creative people.
- Cook or bake something creative.
- Do some decorating/remodeling.
- Travel, or do armchair traveling.
- Interact with children.
- Play board games that require strategy.
As a catechist, one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you teach is to encourage their own ability to imagine while also engaging them in works of mercy that bring hope (the ability to imagine a better tomorrow) to those in despair.
The Resurrection of Jesus dispels the darkness and restores our ability to see the light! It takes imagination to be able to proclaim our Easter word: “Alleluia!”
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