I’m a strong believer in visualization exercises. I’ve seen things happen in my life that I’ve meditated on and perceived coming into reality. It’s strange to me when I’ve experienced that in life. I taught Theology for a number of years, and I always told my students in class, “Perception creates reality”. What we perceive comes about in strange ways. “If you believe yourself to be nothing, you will become nothing. If you recognize the Christ within your heart and the sacred gift of holiness, something will bloom in your understanding”.
Some coaches are advocates of visualization exercises when training athletes. A friend of mine played football at Notre Dame for legendary Lou Holtz and told the story of Holtz doing a visualization exercise the day before a game. Coach Holtz had them lie on the ground, close their eyes and meditate on their breath. The coach guided them in the following meditation:
He told them to visualize the crowd cheering for them as they entered the arena. They aligned themselves for the kickoff. He told how the running back would get the kickoff and run to the right. The blockers would block a certain way, blocking their rivals and the holes would open up a certain way and they would score a touchdown on the opening drive.
The next day at game time it actually happened as coach Holtz said it would. During the celebration of the touchdown, one of the players ran up to him and said, “Coach, does this happen every game”?
It may not happen every time, but more often than not the perception we create for ourselves can help us through the most challenging of times. Although it is hard for us to see God’s reality on a daily basis, if we look hard enough it will unfold before our eyes in poetic ways.
Another example that comes to mind is a story told by the theologian Jean Houston. Houston talked about meeting the great Jesuit theologian/scientist Pierre Teilhard DeChardin. She didn’t know he was a famous scientist when she met him. He allowed her to call him, “Mr. Tayer”. He was just a man she literally bumped into in Central Park while she was running through the park. They struck up a friendship and they would meet there once or twice a week right across the street from St. Ignatius Church. He would teach her about life.
DeChardin got down on the ground to show her the beautiful aspects of science and taught the little girl lessons. He pointed to a caterpillar. He told her to see the “little green being with its funny little feet”. He told her to visualize its metamorphosis. He asked her if she could feel the metamorphosis in herself?
Although his Church censured him from writing due to his complicated theological ideas, he was teaching the young girl about life and the presence of God in life. She lost track of him not knowing that DeChardin had passed away. Years later Houston learned it was him from a book she received from a friend and seeing the great theologian’s picture on the book cover. She understood him in a profound way. Houston writes:
“He could write about love being the evolutionary force, the Omega point, that lures the world and ourselves into becoming, because he experienced that love in a piece of rock, in the wag of a dog’s tail, in the eyes of a child. He was so in love with everything that he talked in great particularity, even to me as an adolescent, about the desire atoms have for each other, the yearning of molecules, of organisms, of bodies, of planets, of galaxies, all of creation longing for that radiant bonding, for joining, for the deepening of their condition, for becoming more by virtue of yearning for and finding the other. He knew about the search for the Beloved. His model was Christ. For Teilhard de Chardin, Christ was the Beloved of the soul”.
The great priest, who taught Jean Houston to perceive God in the beauty of nature, inspired in her a sense of God in all she perceived. We are called to recognize the image of God in others. To visualize Christ in another allows the recognition of the image of God to be made fully manifest in the other. Just think what we could accomplish if we could see Christ in the other.
Stop and smell the roses and look closely for the expression of God.
For the full story of Jean Houston’s encounter with DeChardin titled “My Tayer”:
How might you be able to apply to recognize Christ in another? Where has it expressed itself in your day?