Friday, August 10, 2012

The mystical imagination

I came across this quote recently from Fr Ron Rolheiser. In light of my previous blog entries about the Catholic imagination, Fr. Ron brings out yet another facet of this imagination, referring to the mystical (a personal experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality):

"The mystical imagination is the other half of the scientific imagination and, like science, its purpose is to help us see, imagine, understand, speak about, and relate to reality in a way beyond fantasy and superstition. But the mystical imagination can show us something that science, wonderful though it is, cannot, namely, it can show us the many grace-drenched and spirit-laden layers of reality that are not perceived by our physical senses.

"The mystical imagination can show us how the Holy Spirit isn't just inside our churches, but is also inside the law of gravity. But how do we learn that?
A saint might say: ‘Meditate and pray long enough and you will open yourself up to the other world!’
A poet might say: ‘Stare at a rose long enough and you'll see that there's more there than meets the eye!’
A romantic might say: ‘Just fall in love real deeply or let your heart get broken and you'll soon know there's more to reality than can be empirically measured.’
And the mystics of old would say: ‘Just honor fully what you meet each day and you will find it drenched with grace and divinity.’"

For me this other way of seeing and sensing that transcends the scientific approach to reality is invoked in a number of ways. For example, one of my favorite times of day is dusk, when the sun is setting. Most of the time I don’t even notice this time of transition. But sometimes I am somewhere where everything gets bathed in that special light of sunset, at the beach or in a park or even in the city apart from all the artificial light, and I begin to sense a dimension of reality that is, as Fr. Ron describes, drenched with grace and divinity.

As Hamlet says to Horatio, the model of scientific reason,
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.