It is definitely true that imagination can be most difficult in our darkest moments. The numbness of despair that Brueggemann describes is the moment of greatest peril for imagination as our minds attempt to close in on themselves for protection. When the pain is so great, our only escape is to feel nothing, rather than opening ourselves to the vulnerability of hope.—Kendrick Kemp, discussion board post in Forum 4, TMPT7263 Spring 2023, emphasis mine
I’m taking “Theologies of Imagination and Theopoetics” with Callid Keefe-Perry this spring. It’s one of the great gifts of this year of study… diving into theopoetics with someone who’s been doing this longer and more deeply than I.
And it means — as does my thesis research, which I’m scrambling through right now so I can start writing again — that as I’m studying imagination + theology (good, great, and important) I’m reading a lot about hope.
Pain and hope. Suffering and hope. Imagination during pain and suffering as part of envisioning hope.
I hurt. Grief holds suffering.
And I have not the remotest clue how my mom’s death connects to hope.
My faith continues as it does… it’s a long-running conversation punctuated by a (mutual) lot of silence. I think we get along fine, God and I. And that my mom is “gathered into the communion of saints,” more proximate with God than I, is good, too. Good for her, and a hell of a lot better than experiencing the pain of her cancer.
I’m not one for “we’ll meet again in heaven,” since I don’t know here on earth how whatever-that-is works,
and even if I did, what difference does that make to me right now?
“Better, later,” only works for me for acute or bounded things, when I can envision both better and later. Plus I have zero desire to be dead.
I noticed Kendrick’s wise and thoughtful comment when he said “our only escape is to feel nothing” .
That stings: I’m now meeting routinely with a counselor because my interior let me know I had been trying to feel more nothing, even while I thought I was feeling plenty.
I’m now in the early stages of re-attending to my sadness — which, frankly, keeps reminding me of panic. Maybe the panic is riding alongside the sadness. I have a lot to do — a lot that I very much want to do — and sadness is frequently time-consuming. It has been/can be that way for me, anyway.
Anyway. Here I am, doing what I’ve been itching to do for years
reading words that sting in the ways that proper prophecy stings*
wondering what hope has to do with her loss.
Grief will get easier with time. Sure.
Yet I’m still here right now, not later.
*I won’t go into it right now, but biblical prophecy has little to do with fortune-telling or predicting the future and lots to do with seeing the current world sharply, in ways that the powerful and the secure aren’t willing to confront. Sometimes those home truths end up in the world as natural consequences… which might look like predicting the future to some.