I am always trying to find new ways of helping people to grasp and feel inspired to engage in continuous and loving conversation with God. Along these lines, a phrase that is dear to the heart of every child recently came to mind: “Make believe.” Ultimately, this expression gives children permission to use their imagination and intuition to meditate on the vast possibilities that are opened by human creativity. Make believe is one of the essentials of human flourishing because it allows us to move beyond our present circumstances to discover new potential.
So often, when it comes to religion, we get trapped in rigid ways of understanding our relationship with God. We tend to believe that the beauty and spontaneity of childhood must be left behind for the more sober and serious work of being an adult. In some regards, this is true. As beautiful as children can be, their interior life is still riddled with contradictions and disordered patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring.
That being said, I would propose that there is a continuity between the “make believe” of children, and our call to ceaseless prayer. Instead of living in a world composed of our limited imagination, the “make believe” of adults consists in allowing the Holy Spirit to open us to a whole new spiritual reality. Nourishing our intuition by the Word of God and by the Sacraments, we are able to “make believe” that Jesus is communicating to us each and every moment.
Then, as our intuition is opened to this whole new mode of existence, we must begin to practice on-going and continuous discernment. Instead of our intuition be declared infallible, we must weigh each inspiration that arises against the rule of faith, the standard of the community which is nothing short of the body of Christ. Thus we must constantly weigh our “make believe” against the backdrop of the whole Catholic Church, and so practice a consistent watchfulness. The Church, in this regards, safeguards and protects our play in the Holy Spirit, keeping it within the realm of authentic Christian doctrine.
Today, let us make believe. Let us make believe that Jesus is talking to us at each and every moment. Let us make believe that God is calling us to be saints, and let us make believe the many ways that we can live out this vocation.