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‘Procreating in Beauty’ is the role of the imagination wedded to creation.

Jacques Maritain

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Can we doubt that imagination is an impulse necessary for life? Do we not need imagination to enjoy the primal creative expressiveness of the Creator in the first place? Indeed we live in the imagination of the Creator of creativity, and yet our imagination can suffer by being disconnected from its source.

Janine Langan writes,

“Many of our contemporaries think art – painting, music, drama, film – simply as relaxation or personal therapy. They use their imaginations to flee into their mental cocoons, to weave a personal lifestyle not open to discussion…

… have we let ourselves be hijacked by cliche’s and propaganda with which we are continually bombarded?”

Thus imagination needs continual rescue from the prevailing hijacking culture, continual reconnection to the source of the creative impulse, and continual rehabilitation of meaning.

Rehabilitating “imagination”

In his recent CT interview, Rankin Wilbourne touches on the importance of imagination:

We have to rehabilitate this word imagination. It’s not imagination versus reality. Imagination is simply the God-given capacity to image what is real but is not visible. You use your imagination all of the time…

Betwixt Anniversary and Wedding

It has taken a recurrently refreshed imagination to enjoy marriage over these many years. Here I am between celebrating our wedding anniversary (34 years; imagine that), and on the way to celebrating our son’s wedding: a small affair with only his family and his wife’s family for a remote island ceremony.

If it takes a village to raise a child, surely it takes a community to raise a marriage.

But more; it takes a community with imagination; it takes the concerted input, surrounding, holding together, and support of family and friends who exist for the flourishing of this couple’s ongoing relationships. That’s plural “relationships“, for no couple can live in isolation; they (we) need our own network of committed thinkers, doers, and supporters who can offer hopeful imagination and faith.

Imagining a Better Marriage

Aleah Marsden explores the role of imagination in “Imagining a Better Marriage actually improved mine“:

“If a marriage is struggling, is it possible to imagine a healthier marriage?… If “we live off stories,” then the story motivating our marriages is of vital importance. Are we living merely according to the narrative we presently see and experience? Could we, instead, engage our imaginations to “see” and live according to a spiritual reality which we may not immediately feel—the reality of our marriage covenant before God, rich with his grace and the hope of the gospel?

The narrative of any Christian marriage at its root is the story of a covenant. A man and a woman come together before God, forsaking all others, and make sacred vows of commitment to one another…

It is only once we have been captured by this covenantal vision for our marriage that we can then make intentional and concrete decisions to pursue it. Otherwise, we will default to a rival story supplied by the culture or by our own self-centeredness. Most often these stories are driven by personal fulfillment… with a trajectory marked by our own immediate gratification.

When my husband and I attended marital counseling, our counselor would ask a crucial question at the end of each session: How would I rate my level of hope for the relationship, on a scale of one to ten? This question propelled me in a new direction; it was a reinvigorating discipline for me to intentionally look at our relationship through the lens of hope. Rather than focusing on hurts or disappointments in our present, could I envision a future of mutual forgiveness and increasing intimacy? Or had I, in fact, become resigned to enduring apathy?

This was the important work of reframing our experience, using a better story to build a scaffolding from which we could assess our brokenness and make necessary repairs. Our discerning counselor knew that filling our heads with better interpersonal skills alone would not help us attain our intended outcome. My mindset—my imagination—needed to be reoriented first.”

The Loss of Imagination and Marital Apathy

In her essay “The Christian Imagination”, Janine Langan writes,

“We tend to think of the imagination as ‘ice cream on the cake’ – as flight, fancy, distraction, decoration. And education, of course, should focus on the fundamentals. My contention is that there is nothing more fundamental than the imagination, and that our loss of respect for it is directly linked to religious apathy.”

I would restate her last line this way:

There is nothing more fundamental than the imagination, and that our loss of respect for it is directly linked to marital apathy.

May you stir up a reinvigorated imagination

May you be surrounded by imaginative friends & familys

May you explore the beauty of the creator’s impulse

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