One of the spiritual exercises that St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended was entering the story of scripture using your imagination. Using all your senses, imagine yourself in the story. Today, I am offering this exercise to you.
Below is a story that appeals to me from the Gospel of John. You do not have to be Christian to appreciate the point of this story, I believe. But if you would rather gather another story and do this exercise, I would encourage you to do that!
Sit relaxed, place your feet flat on the ground and read the story. Then close your eyes and reconstruct the scene in your imagination. What is going on with the men and women in the scene? What do the characters look like? How do the characters react to each other? What are the people saying to one another? What emotions fill their words? As you enter into the scene, sometimes there is the desire to be there. You could place yourself in the scene as one of the characters in the story or as someone brand new.
Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
What do you smell? See? Can you feel anything? Can you imagine writing in the dirt? What would you write? Are there smells? Can you hear anything? Is your intuitive sense telling you anything? Where are you in the story? Who are you in the story? What is your story?
Shalom and Amen.
© 2013, post and video, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved
TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s Sunday Chaplain, Senior Content Editor, and Site Co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a recent graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.