Transformation – the practice of imagination

Theme for March

Each month, our church gathers around a monthly theme and practice to guide our congregational life: worship, small groups, religious education, justice, and classes. Use these readings for reflection around the dinner table, in your own prayer practice, alone or with others.

Download 2016.3 Transformation – the practice of imagination packet

QUESTIONS

  • How have you experienced transformation in your life?
  • How has your imagination led you to different insight, truth, or wisdom?
  • How do you imagine a future world transformed toward more justice, beauty, or peace?

 

QUOTES

To change one’s life:
 1. Start immediately. 
2. Do it flamboyantly.
 3. No exceptions.
- William James 

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.
- Henry David Thoreau

You seek too much information and not enough transformation.
- Shirdi Sai Baba (1856-1918) Indian yogic master

Transformation literally means going beyond your form.
- Wayne Dyer

King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.
- Cornel West

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
- J.K. Rowling

 


POETRY & LYRICS

Quietness
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Escape.
Walk out like somebody suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You’re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side.
Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
- Jelaluddin Rumi

 

Last Night As I Was Sleeping
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.
- Antonio Machado

 

In the midst of a world
In the midst of a world
marked by tragedy and beauty
there must be those
who bear witness
against unnecessary destruction
and who, with faith,
rise and lead
in freedom,
with grace and power.
There must be those who
speak honestly
and do not avoid seeing
what must be seen
of sorrow and outrage,
or tenderness,
and wonder.
There must be those whose
grief ­troubles the water
while their voices sing
and speak
refreshed worlds.
There must be those
whose exuberance
rises with lovely energy
that articulates
earth’s joys.
There must be those who
are restless for
respectful and loving
companionship among human beings,
whose presence invites ­people
to be themselves without fear.
There must be those
who gather with the congregation
of remembrance and compassion
draw water from
old wells,
and walk the ­simple path
of love for neighbor.
And,
There must be communities of ­people
who seek to do justice
love kindness and walk humbly with God,
who call on the strength of
soul-force
to heal,
transform,
and bless life.
There must be
religious witness.
- Rebecca Parker

 

Each New Day
Why is this blank page
staring back at me,
mocking, like an affliction,
and fraught with dread?
How can it hold such sway,
this simple emptiness?

Might it instead be a gift
left on my doorstep overnight,
waiting to be broken open
with the dawn?
A present, eager to emerge
if only I had the sense
to hold the paper
over a candle flame,
its lemon juice message
appearing, like magic,
clear and true?

Each new day is like this,
pure air, devoid of density,
but for the weight of our own
invention.

Birds do not worry the morning
or fret the rising sun.
They wait, expectant,
until its rays kiss their downy necks.
Then, stretching,
they turn to face the day,
And sing.
-Peter Friedrichs

 

READINGS & EXCERPTS

…as the summer went on, and I kept staring at the pottery, I slowly started to notice something more than just the brokenness. Some of the pieces of clay, however broken, were really quite beautiful.

Later in the summer, I found out about the business of pottery mending. This tedious work goes on year-round in a cathedral-like building not far from the tel. Here ancient vessels have been slowly and carefully reconstructed. I remember being completely amazed at seeing those huge restored jugs for the first time. How could anyone have possibly managed to piece together so many small nondescript chips of clay?

Seeing those restored vessels encouraged me to imagine perhaps that at least some of the world’s brokenness could be overcome. I began to picture myself in a kind of vocation of mending, of repairing some of the world’s brokenness. To mend the world. To proclaim a radical vision of social transformation that would prevent future brokenness from occurring. These are the tasks that I perceived the world to be demanding of me.

- From Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith by Sharon Daloz Parks

 

Imagination—our ability to create images not available to the sensory system—is arguably our greatest faculty for evolving human consciousness. In order to transform ourselves and our world, we need to be able to leap out of the familiar and into the unknown. The first step in doing this is to imagine a future different from the past, a self-sense different from the one we have now. Of course, we are shaped by our memories, our karma, and the patterns woven into our neurons and cells. Undeniably, we’re also influenced by culture and physical circumstances. Some of these factors are hard to change. But the imagination can help us begin to replace our internal patterns, especially the ones that keep us limited and stuck. If we can reimagine our sense of who we are, we can change our experience of life…

Great poets and scientific thinkers have repeatedly described the mystery of breakthrough the way John Keats did, when he said that his greatest poems were “given to me” by a “power like magic.” Spiritual voyagers have similar experiences of the power of that inner realm. Imagination is the doorway into that realm beyond ordinary consciousness.

According to the ancient Tantric master Abhinavagupta, imagination is not just powerful; it is power itself. The human capacity to imagine, according to Tantra, is simply our individual form of the power of the infinite consciousness, the infinite mind. That great mind imagines worlds within itself and brings them into existence, say the Tantric sages. Our own imaginations do the same thing on a smaller scale.

- Excerpts from:
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/philosophy/it-s-all-in-your-mind/