restoring imagination

[As the possibilities of “post-pandemic life” slowly emerge, this excerpt from Shelly Rambo’s insightful theology of trauma seem applicable. How do we restore “embodied practices of imagination” at this time?]

The practices of sensing life are embodied practices of imagination. When Bessel van der Kolk speaks about the path of trauma healing, he says a primary bodily connection to the world needs to be restored. In the course of his research he has discovered that, of all capacities lost in the experience of trauma, the loss of imagination is perhaps the most devastating. For trauma healing to happen, the capacity to imagine one’s life beyond a radical ending, to imagine life anew, must be restored. “The degree to which we are successful, as clinicians, is the degree to which we can restore these capacities of delight, hope, and imagination,” he says. Restoring the sense of trust and meaning is not purely cognitive; it involves instead a different sense of the world. Sensing life is this kind of reconnecting process; it is an exercise of imagination in the face of what is unimaginable.

This second movement of Spirit witnesses a process of coming into life, of sensing it again. The Spirit’s witness, here, is to forms of life that are less discernible, more inchoate and tenuous, than visible and secure.

  • Shelly Rambo, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining (2010, p.162)

on not knowing

[After an amazing week in which SSU helped to host the inaugural Bonfire Festival in St. Stephen – with the help of many alumni and friends – we had some final songs from visiting artists to wrap up this morning at St. Croix Vineyard. In the middle of the service, when the vulnerability and presence of the Spirit were getting thick, Rosie Funk read this passage from Thomas Merton]:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

  • Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

prayer of st. brendan

Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.

– prayer of St. Brendan

prayer of st brendan

Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.

– Prayer of St. Brendan