Have you ever tried using your imagination with a scripture passage? I don’t know if it is the same for you, but I have always had an active imagination, so this kind of prayer really does it for me. If you are curious, pour yourself a cup of coffee, while I tell you about a crazy experience that I had. It was one Easter season a couple of years ago when I decided to meditate on the scripture passage about being locked in the upper room.
”It was the first day of the week, and that very evening, while the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you!” He said to them.” (John 20:19)
In imaginative contemplation, most people pretend to be a person in the story. Often, I pick someone who is already in the passage like a disciple, but this time I decided to just be me myself. All the other characters quietly faded into the background. Alone and scared, I sat on a bench in the upper room. This moment of waiting in that dark room, knowing that I myself could be crucified if I left, felt all the more real to me because I was currently fearing the judgement of others in my own life. I was experiencing an anxiety rooted in shame.
I heard Jesus knock on the door. I knew it was him. I told him I could not open the door. I sat there frozen in fear and unable to make a step towards him. I couldn’t even name what I was afraid of, I just knew that I didn’t feel ready for the walls to come down. I know I was blocking him, and at the same time, I desired to be with him.
As only Jesus could, he read my mind and then CAME THROUGH THE WALL! I remember my shock, not wrapped in fear, but in awe. Then, surprisingly, he came and sat next to me. He said he would wait with me until I was ready, whenever that would be. I knew he could tell me what was blocking me, but I couldn’t look at it yet…what might I see about myself!! I desired freedom but not yet.
I felt crippled by my fear until Jesus took my arm and stood up with me, side by side, and to my astonishment, we were the same height! He did not tower over me like I thought he would. He casually rested his arm over my shoulder, as if we were equals, like we were best friends. It struck me- we are best friends!! He did not look at me, because he knew I couldn’t have handled his eyes on me yet. And then he said, “We can look out at the world together, Julie.”
We were in this together, both facing out, but holding tight to each other. We did not have to leave the room yet. Even though the shadowy corners grew dark, and I longed to leap in the fields surrounded by the light outside, I could not take that step forward yet.
With Jesus beside me, I felt a gratitude for the support that I didn’t know I needed. A gratitude for the gentlemanly way that he waited for me to be ready without pressing me. A gratitude for the hope of having new eyes in which to look upon the world. He cherished me and loved me like no other. Knowing that he was beside me made me stronger. He gave me what I didn’t even know that I needed when I entered into prayer that day…to feel supported, cherished, and okay sitting still.
The best thing about contemplating scripture in this imaginative way is the way that God always surprises me. I cannot make up the responses he gives me. The surprise of it always brings me to tears…the tears that flow from being understood and loved.
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About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and learnings with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.