Can God Guide Our Imaginations?
Today, I want to touch a little on something a friend of mine, whom I'll call "A," asked me in an e-mail a while back. Here was his question: "Dave...I wonder if, in your experience of learning to listen to God, to hear Him Speak interiorly to you, you've been informed by Ignatian spirituality's belief that God can guide our imaginations?"
Below, is my answer to his question.
To answer your question: Yes, I believe God can and does guide our imaginations. I became "informed" of these things, though, long before I encountered Ignatian Spirituality. Or, at least, long before the principles of Ignatian Spirituality were articulated to me.
God created us in and through His Divine Imagination.
To imagine is to see what does not yet exist as though it does because, paradoxically, imagining something creates its existence. Through God's Divine Imaginings, this is how He has known each of us since BEFORE the foundations of the earth were laid. God's "Divine Imagining" is the very seedbed of ultimate creativity and inventiveness.
To illustrate the inner workings of the "relationship" between creativity (the ability to imagine), creation (the imagining of [fill-in-the-blank]), and the physical or spiritual processes of bringing to solid form that which has been imagined, I submit the following example: creating a chair.
Once the image of "chair" has been formed in your mind, the idea of "chair" has been created. The fashioning of the imagined "idea of chair" into the usable physical form we call "chair" is simply the bringing to solidity that which was imagined previously (or, using the above vernacular, that which was created first in the imagination).
Another side to all this is how the solid form of something can inspire additional creativity and imagination. Take, for example, creating a painting or writing a children's story. What the original artist or author may have imagined may, in its crystallized form, create imaginings quite different from that which was imagined by the original creator. This is why some paintings can evoke sadness in one person, joy in another, and even anger in yet another. For the observer (in observing) or the reader (in reading) brings a personal, creative element to the observing or reading experience. Another example of this additional creativity is what I like to call "derivative creation." By derivative creation, I mean something derived from the original creation, be it modifications to or improvements upon the original idea. Returning to the idea of "chair," the possibilities for derivative creation are nearly endless. Just in your own home, there are probably more than a dozen examples of derivative chair creations—from your kitchen table chair, to your La-Z Boy recliner, to your entry way bench. While they're all chairs of sorts, they're also expansions to the original idea of "chair."
To have God's guidance in our imaginations is to have Him at the helm of our generativeness. The spark of creativity is generative desire. And generative desire comes from God:
The desire to extend the kingdom of God; to create that which brings joy or greater dominion; to create loving relationships; to learn more about God so we might experience Him more fully and directly (and, as such, find our ultimate satisfaction and enjoyment in Him; and, in turn, become a conduit of such things to those around us). All this comes from God and is guided by Him through the conduit of the imagination.
Generative desire (e.g., God's Imaginings as they're expressed uniquely in and through our own imaginings) is always of God. Cravings are a counterfeit to (or a warping of) such desires. To delight oneself in God is to, over time, find one's cravings transformed into generative desires, which can then be channeled toward generative, life-giving pursuits (see Psalm 119:36, 119:18, 90:14, and 37:4).
I love it, my brother, that you're thinking about these things and that you're asking such questions.
Peace to you, my friend...
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