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IMAGINATION 
ISSUE No. 13 | SEPTEMBER 2O21

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ISSUE No. 13 | September 2021

WELCOME

If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you!  CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND.  Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:

What are you cultivating in your life?

What fruit do you want your life to bear?

Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:

Cultivate:  Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”

 

Irrigate:  Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation:  Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.

 

Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.  

Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living.  We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!

 
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FIELD

For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.

(I Corinthians 3:9)

Our theme this month is IMAGINATION.  We think the topic of imagination is an especially timely one.  For starters, this issue marks CULTIVARE’s one-year anniversary! The response to our monthly field guide has far exceeded our imaginations. We are grateful for our contributors and readers and for the steady flow of encouraging comments we receive.

 

A vibrant imagination is crucial to living the Christian life.  Jesus repeatedly employed imagination to foster a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of God and at the same time to confront misconceptions of reality and truth.  His parables and miracles were (and still are) invitations to engage one’s imagination to see and understand God’s purposes and plans in deeper and clearer ways. From beginning to end, the Bible invites us to embrace a sanctified imagination that helps us look beyond our own experience.

 

Living from a sanctified imagination is deficient in our world today.  For many of us our default setting is to allow our imaginations to be dominated by fear, anxiety, and culture rather than by an abiding belief in a sovereign and redemptive God who works through suffering, pain, loss, bewilderment, and mystery.  Author Francis A. Schaeffer once wrote:  The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.  We agree, and we hope this issue will help us all to begin to engage our imaginations with greater freedom and hope. 

 

In this issue we feature the poetry of Denise Levertov and the sculpture of artist Janet Echelman.  You’ll find an essay by physicist Brad Keister on the Priority of Imagination along with an invitation to explore a new book by Malcom Guite entitled Lifting the Veil: Imagination and the Kingdom of God.  Our Profile explores the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola who experienced the power of imagination in forging a deeper relationship with God and who encourages each of us to experience the same.  Throughout the issue we feature the artwork of gifted 3-D Sidewalk artists who amazes us into reimagining our streets and communities and ultimately our individual and communal lives together. The renowned educator Maria Montessori once wrote: Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.  We invite you to spend time this month contemplating the questions: What is God calling me to imagine? To create? To become? (DG)

 

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NRS)

 

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.   (Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

 

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.

(1 Cor. 2:9 MSG)

 
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SEEDS

A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life

 

 

The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.

(Henry Ward Beecher)

 

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. (Albert Einstein)

 

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.

(Carl Sagan)

 

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. (Mark Twain)

 

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.  (J.K. Rowling)

 

Hate is a lack of imagination. (Graham Greene)

 

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.   (Ursula K. Le Guin)

 

Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but, until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in. (Frederick Buechner)

 
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ART

Artist of the Month

Janet Echelman

Sculptor

Janet Echelman sculpts at the scale of buildings and city blocks. Echelman’s work defies categorization, as it intersects Sculpture, Architecture, Urban Design, Material Science, Structural & Aeronautical Engineering, and Computer Science. Echelman’s art transforms with wind and light, and shifts from being “an object you look at, into an experience you can get lost in.” 

Born in Tampa, Florida in 1966, Echelman was named an Architectural Digest 2012 Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.”  Her piece Water Sky Garden premiered at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Using unlikely materials from atomized water particles to engineered fiber--fifteen times stronger than steel, Echelman combines ancient craft with computational design software to create artworks that have become focal points for urban life on five continents, from Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Santiago, to Beijing, Boston, New York and London.  Permanent works in Porto (Portugal), Gwanggyo (South Korea), Vancouver, San Francisco, West Hollywood, Phoenix, Eugene, Greensboro, Philadelphia, Seattle, and St. Petersburg (FL) transform daily with colored light.   

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1.78 Madrid, 2018, Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

 

 

 

Echelman found her true voice as an artist when her paints went missing -- which forced her to look to an unorthodox new art material. In her TED Talk entitled Taking Imagination Seriously, Echelman shares her story and the imagination the propels her work. (10 minutes)


TED Talk:  Taking Imagination Seriously – Janet Echelman

https://www.ted.com/talks/janet_echelman_taking_imagination_seriously#t-707

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1.26 Amsterdam, 2012-2013, Amstel River, Amsterdam, Netherland

 

For more information and photographs of Echelman’s extraordinary sculptures,

explore her website:  https://www.echelman.com/

 
 
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POETRY

Making Peace

Denise Levertov

         

A voice from the dark called out,
"The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war."

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can't be imagined before it is made,
can't be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

 

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear

if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

 
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PROFILE

St. Ignatius of Loyola

By Billy Brummel

For our profile this month we look to the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola who, though most likely a familiar name to our Catholic brothers and sisters, might be less familiar to Protestants. We chose St. Ignatius this month because of the prominent role imagination played in the formation of his faith and spirituality, and consequently in the lives of all those who have come in contact with the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as Jesuits) subsequently.

 

St Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491 in the Castle of Loyola in northeastern Spain. He was one of 16 children; his mother died while he was very young, and his father died when he was 16 years old. As a boy, he dreamed of romantic chivalrous escapades, and his lifestyle followed suit: he wore fancy clothes, was an excellent dancer, chased after women, and had some close encounters with law enforcement, after which he utilized his privileged status to escape prosecution. He entered the military service in 1517. In 1521, while defending the town of Pamplona (almost single handedly) from the French, he was struck in the leg with a cannonball. (The French soldiers were so impressed with his bravery they offered to transport him from the battlefield). His leg was set incorrectly and resulted in an unsightly bone protrusion that would be quite prominent while wearing the fashionable tights of that era, so at his request the leg was re-broken and re-set.

 

When he returned to Loyola to recover, he requested volumes of chivalrous tales such as the ones he’d grown up with; however, there were only two books in the house available: The Lives of the Saints and an illustrated life of Jesus. As he read these volumes, he found himself imagining that he was there in the middle of the stories about Jesus, and he began imagining that he could transform himself into the kind of person that would accomplish great things for God and the church in the same way as St. Francis or St. Dominic. These times of contemplation left him feeling contented and encouraged. He would also revert to his daydreams of romantic conquests, but these times would leave him feeling dissatisfied and empty.  Noticing the contrast, Ignatius concluded that God was using these experiences and feelings to draw him into a life of prayer and service.

 

Once able to walk again, Ignatius swore off his old life and committed fully to serving God. He spent the next year in intense prayer and communion with God. It was a time that resulted in many insights about himself and God, but it was also a time filled with periods of doubt, anxiety, and deep depression. He kept notes on the entire process and his experiences which would later form the Book of Spiritual Exercises- a compilation of prayers, meditations and contemplative practices meant to help people deepen their relationship with God. Though he had his sights set on establishing a ministry in the Holy Land, circumstances repeatedly prevented it. Eventually he returned to Spain and then to Paris to further his education in order to help impact the future service of the church. While he was studying in Paris he boarded with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, who helped Ignatius with his studies while he led them in the spiritual exercises. This group attracted more people and eventually discerned that they were being called to establish a new religious order, one that would not be cloistered but out in the world—“contemplatives in action”. In 1540, the pope approved the creation of the Society of Jesus as a new religious order. Ignatius served as the Superior General of the Society of Jesus until his death on July 31, 1556.

 

Today the Jesuits are the largest religious order in the Catholic Church with approximately 20,000 members worldwide, the most prominent being Pope Francis. They are well known for their missionary work, but their most visible work has been in the field of education. In the United States alone, there are 28 Jesuit universities and 62 high schools.

 

Ignatius was once consumed by dreams of vainglory but made a hard right turn and founded a Catholic religious order and was later elevated to sainthood. How did this happen? Ignatius’ encounters with Jesus through his times of imaginative contemplation provided him with a new telos—a vision of the good life. This vision enraptured his heart so completely that his life became animated by obedience to Christ. This points to the fact that ultimately, our actions are most directly affected by the things that we desire, not the things that we know. The picture in our mind’s eye of “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” re-orients our actions in such a way that moving towards telos seems more natural and intuitive than the oft-repeated advice to “fake it ‘til you make it”. Speaking to the power of how a captivating vision can rightly order our actions, Antoine de Saint-Exupery writes: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” This month I hope that you will use your imagination to encounter Jesus and that His presence will leave you longing for the endless immensity of his kingdom life.

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FILM

Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

Life is Beautiful

(1997)

 

Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful is a great film to watch if you’re looking to engage in the virtue of wisdom and the character strength of imagination.  In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish waiter named Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand prize for winning is a tank.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), winning three Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Musical Score, and Best Actor – the first Oscar ever awarded for a male non-English performance. Available on various streaming services. 

Live Action Short

Pure Imagination

(5 minutes)

A distinct mix of music, short film, and promo for the outdoor brand The North Face, the film follows a kid sitting in the back seat of a car, bored as his family drives around town. Soon, however, his daydreaming and imagination take on a very physical dimension.  The contrast between his parents' mundane conversation and the kid's gleeful appreciation of what he's witnessing is a joy to watch. The parents finally notice a crowd of skiers at the end, blurring the line between reality and imagination further.

 

https://www.davidreviews.tv/Work/The_North_Face_Imagination/index.asp

Animated Short

La Luna

(7 minutes)

La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy coming of age in the most peculiar circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way amidst their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z73dtVAp53s

 
 
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ESSAY

The Priority of Imagination

By Brad Keister

 

The word imagination has many connotations in language usage.  It can be fanciful: “That house design is imaginative.”  Or it can be almost mundane: “This isn’t rocket science; use your imagination!”  

 

But there is another view:  that imagination is foundational--it underpins our uniqueness as humans, and the way in which we differ from each other.

 

Imagination can be thought of as mental activity that goes beyond our collected sensory inputs.  It represents what we bring to the world as opposed to what we get from it.  For example, if the sun is setting, we could use instruments to measure light levels and color spectrum, and everyone who does this should record the same data.  But we each see what we call the sunset differently, because we bring our imagination into our viewing, even though we will all agree that we “see a sunset.”  This is made manifest by considering the many ways a sunset is rendered in a painting.

 

The poet and artist William Blake believed that imagination is not just a decoration to be added to our purposeful lives, but rather is central to our existence as creatures of God: “The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”  This theme permeated his paintings and his writings.

 

Because Blake worked in the literary and visual arts, it is easy to cast imagination as the primary purview of the arts, which then “leads the way” for a civilized society but is not relevant to someone outside that world.  But Northrop Frye, a prominent Blake scholar, had this to say: “The totality of imaginative power, of which the matrix is art, is what we ordinarily call culture or civilization.  Everything worth doing and done well is an art, whether love, conversation, religion, education, sport, cookery or commerce.  Because the world is fallen, we think of art as ornament succeeding necessities; but all life moves upward to achieve ornament, for ornament is free and necessities are necessary.”

 

Owen Barfield, one of the Inklings and a friend of C. S. Lewis, wrote that human existence over centuries has been transformed to ever more reliance upon imagination in relating to the world, as much of what we believe about and act upon it cannot immediately be sensed.  

 

Just consider the following examples as a contrast to living in the world one millennium ago:

 

A physical therapist uses her systematic knowledge of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels to treat a patient without breaking the skin.  She may also use post-trauma training to engage the patient in the most helpful way.  Cell phones are powerful computing and communication devices that depend upon the details of atomic physics as well as advanced gravity (for GPS), none of which would be apparent by breaking it open to see what’s inside.

 

As for matters of faith, Barfield also noted that the parables of Jesus can be maddening from the perspective of everyday reason and experience and can only make sense if one uses one’s imagination.  

 

William Blake also wrote, in his message to the Christians in his illustrated poem, Jerusalem: “I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body and mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.”

 

Ironically, if imagination forms the core of our existence, it can also easily be forgotten because it is always with us.  If we forget, we risk placing an undue emphasis on debating philosophy, theology and politics, and rules of behavior.  

 

We cannot always will our imagination into being, but we can lay fertile groundwork for it, by paying attention to the created world – its beauty and its chaos – and to the people around us – whether in joy or suffering.  It’s in that paying attention that imagination can take hold.

 

It is my hope for this theme that readers will see more clearly the role of imagination in their lives, so that they may appreciate and care for it.  

 

 

Brad Keister is a theoretical physicist who has enjoyed successive careers at Carnegie Mellon University and at the National Science Foundation.  Now retired from the more formal demands of research and teaching, he lives with his wife Katie (a fiber artist) in the Shenandoah Mountains of Northern Virginia.

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BOOKS

Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme

 

Lifting the Veil: 

Imagination and the Kingdom of God

Malcom Guite

 

From the first moment that he proclaims the Kingdom of God, Jesus appeals to our imagination. He makes that appeal through the parables of the kingdom, the paradoxes of the gospel, the enigmatic and beautiful signs he gave in his miracles and in those moments when the heavens open and the ordinary is transfigured, seen in an utterly new light. In this book Guite revisits and expands on the insights he gave in his Laing Lectures at Regent College, exploring how the creative work of poets and other artists can lift the veil a little and kindle our imaginations for Christ.

 

This book will be released October 1, 2021.  It is available for pre-order now on several online websites including Amazon.  You may order at a discounted price at the publishers website, Square Halo Books:  https://www.squarehalobooks.com/store

 

N.T. Wright, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, University of St Andrews, offers these reflections on Guite’s new book:  A small treasure-house of beauty and imagination, helping us in turn to imagine God’s world and God’s love with multi-faceted and grateful wisdom.

 

Children’s Book

Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story 

Jonathan D. Voss

 

Olive is a little girl with a big, bright imagination. Hoot is her stuffed-animal owl…and her best friend. The two love adventures of all sorts. But on the rainiest of days, there is only one thing to do: stay inside and imagine a whole new world.

Just as they’re about to begin their adventure, Hoot makes a shocking discovery―his imagination is broken! Like the best of best friends, Olive comes up with some ideas to help him. But nothing is working: not the head unscrambler, the earmuffs, or the hypnosis. Just as the two are about to give up, Olive remembers the secret ingredient to imagination, and they give it one more try.

  • Amazon
 
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DIG DEEPER

Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme

 

1.    PRAY WITH YOUR IMAGINATION 

 

The mental quality of thought that drove Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual life was his remarkable imagination. His imagination played a central role in his conversion. Through his many years of directing others, he discovered how useful the imagination could be in fostering a deeper relationship with God. Imaginative prayer is recognized as one of the hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality.  Learn more about how you can pray with your imagination by exploring this link:


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/pray-with-your-imagination/%3Famp

 

2.   AN EXERCISE IN IMAGINATIVE PRAYER

From the online devotional Pray-As-You-Go

Spend a moment becoming still. 

Imagine yourself in a place where you feel at peace. It might be your own room at home. There are two chairs there and you sit on one of these. There is a knock on the door, and you open it. It is Jesus. You invite him to sit down. What is it like to have him there? He has brought a book with him, and you realize that it is a photograph album of the week... He has taken pictures of you throughout the week. 

You and Jesus look through the photos talking about them. If one in particular catches your eye, for which you are grateful, spend some time with it and talk to Jesus about it . . . 

Is there a particular picture Jesus wants you to look at? What do you feel about his choice? What do you say to him about it? 

Is there a picture there which you wish wasn’t there? Talk to him about that too. 

When you are ready the album is closed. What do you ask of Jesus before he departs, to help you for the week ahead? How do you take leave of each other? 

How do you feel now? 

 

3.     CAN YOU IMAGINE? 

In this excellent article by Brandon J. O’Brien in Christianity Today, O’Brien posits that “Faith is an act of the imagination. And a healthy, vibrant imagination is crucial to the Christian life.” 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/theology/canyouimagine.html

 

 

 

4.     THE POWER OF IMAGINATION – David Whyte (2 minutes)

Poet David Whyte provides a short practice on the power of imagination from his audio program, Clear Mind, Wild Heart. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=229boZXqLMw

 

5.   WE NEED IMAGINATION NOW MORE THAN EVER

Pandemics, wars, and other social crises often create new attitudes, needs, and behaviors, which we need to anticipate. Imagination — the capacity to create, evolve and benefit from mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist — is the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth. While imagination may seem like a frivolous luxury in a crisis, it is actually a necessity for building future success. In this article from the Harvard Business Review the authors offer seven ways companies can develop their organization’s capacity for imagination       

  

https://hbr.org/2020/04/we-need-imagination-now-more-than-ever

 
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ROOTED

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)

POLLINATE

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(a 501c3 ministry) for CULTIVARE are tax-deductible.  

Subscribe to CULTIVARE for free! 

FIELD NOTES

This month we celebrate the work of 3-D Sidewalk artists.  Sidewalk art has the ability to turn pavement into a canvas. In fact, some of the greatest pieces of art today are not only right under our eyes, but also, under our feet.

Images used in order of appearance:

1.   FIELD:   Nikolaj Arndt, Horse

 

2.   SEEDS:   Nikolaj Arndt, 3-D Cat

 

3.   ART:   Janet Echelman, 1.78 Madrid, 2018, Madrid, Spain

 

4.   POETRY:   Julian Beever, Back off, Creep!

 

5.   PROFILE:   Julian Beever, Eiffel Tower

 

6.   FILM:   Julian Beever, White Water Rafting

 

7.   ESSAY:   Edgar Mueller, Ice Age

 

8.   BOOKS:   Manfred Stader, Costa

                         

9.   DIG DEEPER:   Nikolaj Arndt, Candle

 

10.  ROOTED:     Edgar Mueller, Waterfall

TEAM CULTIVARE:  Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Beth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)

 
 
 
 
 

WE'RE LISTENING:

We welcome hearing your thoughts on this issue

and suggestions for future issues.

Email us at:   info@tendwell.org

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