Like many Americans, I played sports when I was younger. In particular, I had a great love for soccer and I dedicated much time to the sport. Before games, I would use a technique that is fairly common across all sports. I would use my imagination to prepare for the game by rehearsing the different possibilities. In this way, I would visualize what I needed to do, and this would help me to focus my attention and enter into the rhythms of the sport.
Believe it or not, lately I have been using the same technique in my meditation time. For the past week, I have been in the midst of a very big transition and much of my meditation time involves me processing my new experiences and seeking the Lord’s presence. Along these lines, I find myself rehearsing many different options as I seek the Lord’s will through discernment.
I have found that visualization can be a very powerful tool for cultivating what my mentor Fr. Dennis Billy would call “contemplative decision-making” (see his book Contemplative Ethics). In this way, we can use our discursive abilities to walk through, process, and discern the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead of viewing the more mundane aspects of our lives as distractions, we should recognize that in prayer nothing is off limits.
As we use our imagination to walk through our days with Jesus, we will find that we are more prepared and more well-disposed to respond to the promptings of Holy Spirit. Instead of viewing our day as a series of unrelated events to which we try our best to respond, we can learn to move with the Spirit and so anticipate areas of temptation and struggle. Thus, we can learn to not only cope with the daily chores that confront us, but learn to conquer them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So consider the untapped potential that lies within spending daily, unscripted time with Jesus Christ. Our unscripted time can be a powerful opportunity to discover how the Holy Spirit was working in our past and the great things the Father wants to do in us in the future. The key is that we must make the time to play, the time to explore the possibilities that the Holy Spirit wants to awaken in us.