Fantastic Composition of Place

I think a priest friend and I once shocked a staff colleague about our experiences in composition of place. You know, right? Placing oneself, with full senses, into the scene with Jesus or a saint.

Reflecting on the call of Zacchaeus, my friend related he was once the tree the short man climbed to get a better view of Jesus. I mentioned one of my most fruitful experiences was being a bird with Jesus viewing the temptation in the desert, and later, perched on the cross. There was even a Roman soldier batting at me with a long stick.

Our third friend was a bit surprised her colleagues had once interacted with the Lord as a tree and a bird.

600px-Leaf_Tissue_Structure_svgUsing my imagination has been an occasional part of my prayer life since I did the Exercises in everyday life two years ago. There is a hanging plant in a room at the student center where I like to pray. Once I imagined sitting with Jesus in the vacuole of a cell on the leaf. There we were: our feet hanging over the edge and watching the chloroplasts float by.

It wasn’t as cartoonish as the drawing, right.

I find I’m less successful imagining a Biblical scene. I do it from time to time, but for some reason the setting is less important than the actual encounter with the person. St Ignatius reminds us our God-given imagination is part of how God made us. As such, a portion of God’s attempts to communicate with us is through this imagination. So I figure: why put any bounds on it?

Have any readers had fruitfulness with placing themselves in the scene as part of prayer? A very good introduction to it is also here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Fantastic Composition of Place

  1. John Donaghy says:

    During an eight day retreat in 2001 on a Native American reservation, I envisioned the scene of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. (Interestingly, today, July 2, used to be the feast of the Visitation.) I envisioned myself in the womb of Elizabeth, jumping for joy when greeting my cousin.

    We are using contemplation of place with our base communities in the parish to help move the people from reading the scriptures searching for a message to reading the scriptures to open oneself to an encounter with God. There has been some very interesting sharing.
    the most fascinating was reading the scripture of the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law. One young man really got into it.
    As a way to open up people to sharing, we ask people to share with one or two others after the period of silence and then offer a chance to share with the whole group.
    The young guy was sharing with another young guy so long that I had to interrupt him to go forward. He shared with the group how he had identified with Peter’s mother-in-law, even feeling himself being pulled to his feet by Jesus. I was overwhelmed – especially since he had ignored gender roles in our machistic culture.
    We keep on doing it, often practicing it at our training sessions, using it as our opening prayer. It is not easy but I’m an finding people more open each time.

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