Thursday, July 29, 2010

Role Playing

One of the things that I think has changed in our culture among many things (most of them not for the good) is the significance of playing and imagination. It seems now that children at a very young age have tools such as toys and games that are suppose to facilitate one's imagination but in reality do the imagining for them. Another factor is that due to urbanization, crime, and two parent working families, and single parenting, children do not play outdoors. I grew up outside (my mother would have gone nuts otherwise), we played every imaginable "game" from soldiers to spacemen and anything available could be a weapon, a magic wand, or used to build a fantasy world from our imagination. I'm not saying that this does not go on today - children have imaginations, but what I am saying the structures are contrived. Books were also for me a way of "seeing" the world, and learning about different people, cultures, attitudes. The library was one of my favorite places, there just aren't many kids today who would make that claim.

In Ignatian contemplation, one places oneself in the middle of a story. God's story to be precise and uses their child like imagination to "see" what God is saying to them personally. Here are some thoughts on this process:

1. Try to find a quiet place, may be in your room, a chapel, or at perhaps work your office with its door closed.

2. Slowly relax and begin to a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Allow your cares and concerns of the moment slip away. Reciting a favorite prayer from memory or praying a decade of the Rosary will help to ease you into the prayer.

3. Slowly and quietly enter into God's presence, When you encounter the Lord, ask Him to give you the grace to see what He desires for you.

4. Slowly read a passage from scripture. Envision where it is taking place follow the reading closely. Is there something that strikes you or speaks out to you?

5. Read it again. Is there something in particular that is touches your heart - perhaps moving you or even troubling you?

6. Allow yourself to be that imaginative child: put yourself in the scene. Are you a main character? Someone on the sidelines watching? Think about the following:

1. What is going on around you?
2. What are the sights? Smells? Textures? Sounds?
3. What are you wearing, how do you feel?
4. Who else is there? Do you recognize those around you?

7. Surrender to the story. Begin to interact with your surrounding, allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit as you speak and engage with others.

8. Do not try to control the prayer. Surrender! Let the Spirit guide you.

9. How are you feeling? Is your "heart on fire?"

10. As you bring your prayer to a close, perhaps you might take a few minutes to speak to the Lord about your experience. Be candid - tell God what/how you have felt.

This can be a very useful means of touching and feeling something spiritual to your being and can open up to thoughts and memories about an area of your life that has been neglected or is seeking more. God's grace can move you, enlighten you, aid in desiring to know Him. It is good to practice this exercise from time to time.

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