“The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same royal consciousness that makes it possible to implement anything and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one. . . .”
Walter Brueggemann, in The Prophetic Imagination
Yes, this is one pithy quote and we can easily find numerous prompts for pondering amongst Brueggemann’s words. Today, I find I am most deeply intrigued by two very powerful concepts.
The first, stated plainly, is the idea of “imagination before implementation”.
And the second presents as a hidden question: What IS the definition of a “prophet”?
Pause and consider:
Can anything be accomplished without there being an initial thought? Our thoughts are the creative force behind our actions. Whether we are consciously aware of a thought or whether it is buried beneath, we are always motivated by our thinking, by our beliefs.
Idea, then, always precedes action.
Suppose I wish to learn about photography.
First there will be a “capturing moment” of awareness that there is something about photos and their creation that is intriguing to me.
I may be drawn closer to this awareness by a photo that captures a whimsical expression of a playful puppy…so I stay a moment longer to steep myself in the humor that it brings to me.
Or perhaps I am drawn to the vivid detail of the shades of orange in a photo of a flower that, had the photographer not paused to snap the shot, I would have bypassed on the sidewalk without a second thought.
Maybe as I walk outside I am thunderstruck by the immense expanse of a mountain skyline or a miraculous sunrise, and find myself longing to “own” this moment for a later time…
As I notice my reactions, a deeper thought appears:
“I wonder if I could learn to take such moments and preserve them in time myself through more artistic photos?”
With such awareness, the possibility of Change…has just been proposed. Even if I am not very likely to launch a career in photography(!) based on this spiritual nudge, what COULD happen…
Because I was curious about Change?
What new joy might it bring to myself, to another…?
What if the appearance of any such a thought is my soul signaling to me of a latent ability as yet unfulfilled?
It is here that I then cross over to “implementation”.
Any change must begin with an idea. With the thought “What if I were to go learn…?”, Brueggemann’s idea of “imagination” has taken place, opening new possibilities of “implementing” this thought. As a result, I may go look for a photography class in my area, perhaps find articles about how to select subjects for a picture, research online the best beginner camera to purchase, or search for an art gallery displaying more photos to further inspire me.
So you can see how important is is that we guard over, and take responsibility for, our thoughts.
We must diligently watch our thoughts:
They contain the Power of Change.
The second inspiration I received from Brueggemann caused me to rethink my concept of a “prophet”. I had, up until this point, always thought of prophets as singular and rare individuals, often divinely appointed to bring ideas, new “imaginations”, in order to shift a currently reality to a better one…someone who “shakes up the norm” so we cannot “unsee” what they are telling us. They were unique, brilliant and special…and certainly NOT ME! Prophets were charged with inspiring the remainder of humanity to listen in wide-eyed wonder as they presented deep truths, clarified our purpose and paths for us…more often than not to the point of deeper mental, spiritual and/or emotional discomfort.
But then I got MY thought shift:
What happens if we begin to see OURSELVES as unique and special…as actual “prophets”?
I mean this in the sense of the responsibility we each carry during each moment of each day:
Essentially, are we not moving through our hours and days “implementing” whatever we have first been “inspired” with?
James Clear writes:
“Every action you take is like a vote for the kind of person you want to be.”
If I choose to see my words and deeds as “prophetic”, this means I am broadcasting messages constantly…everywhere I go…
Whether I want to, plan to…or not…
I am always prophesying.
Ever stopped to observe WHAT you are saying with the way you live your life?
In essence, my actions are the photos of my thoughts…
And I am continuously leaving behind a legacy with every one of my “thought/action prophecies”.
Do you see how we are actually each “prophets”, voting for the “kind of person [we] want to be”?
Can you come to terms with the fact that YOU are a Prophet too?
We must decide to be willing to pause to notice…and evaluate the messages we are sending.
We are called to trace back to the “thought water drop” that “inspired” the stream we are creating…
A stream that is “implementing” an ocean born of our own choices.
Today, see if you can notice three times the action you are taking and then trace it to the thought or belief that brought you there.
(Caveat: This may take more time…our roots often run deep. But the knowledge gleaned from the search is crucial for our forward spiritual momentum.)
Consider one (or more!) of the following questions:
How am I showing up right now?
Is this truly how I WANT to show up?
Why or why not?
Is this the prophecy I wish to reveal…about my soul…about my heart?
What vote am I casting
In this moment…
For the Prophet I Truly Want To Be?
Whom do you wish to reveal…
In your own Prophet Photo?
And what inspiration…
Will you now implement
To prepare for your very next Prophet Photo Op…
That “votes” for the Truth of Who You Are?