About this website

IA logo 2Welcome to the Imagining Abundance website.

The aim of this site is to

  • show how any one of us can imagine abundance for ourselves and for others,
  • act as if our vision is real
  • and persevere through adversity until it becomes so.

Imagining Abundance is a post-modern take on Christian spirituality which aims to be consistent with human psychology, the science of human origins, social and cultural development and our interaction with the universe; and open to other understandings of faith.

This site showcases the life and work of one person, but is offered as a way of stimulating spiritual reflection which honours and builds on what we human beings have learned and are learning about ourselves and our world in recent centuries. Imagining Abundance represents a way of seeing, thinking, choosing and acting creatively with oneself, others, the universe and that Holy Mystery which is conventionally designated "God". This way of relating and living aims to be open-eyed, open-hearted, open-minded, open-handed and open-ended. This means receiving and evaluating the perceptions of others and affirming difference, positively but not uncritically.  

Imagining Abundance begins with personal prayer, but it does not see the personal as private, nor as an end in itself, but rather as one essential aspect of a three-fold way of perceiving, thinking and engaging: with oneself, with others and with the Knowable Unknown.

How does the life of prayer relate to the life of the heart, the life of the mind, our profound loyalties and our sense of purpose and direction; the life of compassionate action? How does the life of prayer generate life which resources the other forms of life?

Honesty, attention, trust. Observation (all data), reflection (looking for trends and patterns, questioning everything and refining the question), experiment (testing out the next piece of ground, acting as if the vision is real).

The process of scientific exploration and the process of creativity and the process of praying are the akin to one another, and make us human.

How can human creativity and learning assist God in generating abundant life for all?

How can traditional Christian spirituality help us understand what enables us to generate more life, where we are?

In facing situations of suffering, generate life in the face of death.

And, when death becomes inevitable, enable us to engage with it in a manner which is life-giving for others.

specific application to the suffering of the world. A world in which we know that Holocaust is possible. In which we know that genocide happens, and God lets it happen, and people let it happen. A world in which God gives us responsibility for preventing genocide, and if we do not prevent it, then God trusts us to get our hands dirty clearing up the mess it leaves behind. A world in which we are partners in creation, called to collaborate with grace, to work within God’s economy of redemption. How can we pray with Christ in his Passion for the world?

This is the context in which we operate as praying personalities.

We process things at different rates on all these different levels. And part of the work of prayer is bringing all this into coherence. Indeed, that is the major work of prayer. Bringing it all into coherence and keeping it positive - choosing life - and keeping it on course. Aligning ourselves Godward and focusing our energies so that we fix something, achieve something, produce something, act. In the here and now. In a specific, material, real, beneficial way. And pointing ourselves to the right place in our context. And making a difference there.

Print Email

Write comment (0 Comments)

Julie's Vision

“I long to see more spaces made available for reflection and the creativity which emerges when we encounter the Source of life in ourselves and the world through honesty, attention and trust.

Through questioning, purposeful reflection and playful creativity - in solitude and in collaboration with others - we become more aware of the abundant resources available to each one of us in our talents and character, in the generosity of others and in the riches of creation.

If life is a spiritual journey, then most of us need a map to help us understand our longings, make life-giving choices and devise strategies for reaching the personal and collective goals that matter to us.

Discovering abundance is a process of life-long learning in which we accompany one another in a way that generates clarity, generosity, compassion, creativity, conviction and courage.

Courage is required because life is not easy in the first place and engendering life-giving change is not a "quick fix". In pursuing abundant life we will encounter resistance in ourselves and others; various forms of adversity and, depending on our circumstances, obstacles and even aggression.

However, the good news is that there is always a way through if we are determined to live from faith, hope and love, rather than fear. There are simple techniques and tools we can learn which will help us turn each point of fear to a way of faith and a spring of hope. And if we are prepared to work long and hard, alone and with others, even the "passion places" of the world can become gardens of peace.

The journey is a process which, through perseverance and collaboration, transforms us, our relationships, our situation, circumstances and environment. We work together, encouraging, enabling and equipping each other to replicate the process and refine it further so that we generate abundant life in every sense, for all.

And we are sustained on the road by returning, as often as we can, to those spaces of reflection where we find our connection to the Source of life. Here we are renewed in confidence and faith, ready to travel on.

Sections of this site:

There are seven major paths through the material on this site, each with a slightly different focus and approaching particular ideas and themes from a specific direction. Julie likened this to the different routes on offer when entering a country park - the two-mile route, the five-mile route, the lakeside path, the woodland one.

 

 

Print Email

Write comment (0 Comments)

Using this site

Reading about the promise is one thing; claiming it is another. To claim it, we have to do some work and make space to pay attention, turn from old habits to new ones, change the way we think, choose etc. But it is worth it. We can begin to see the benefits of change at once and those benefits accumulate, moment by moment, day by day. We experience abundance as soon as we begin to focus on what it is, why it matters and how to go about creating it.

Exploring this material
This site contains eight sections, each building on those before it. Each section contains a story, prayers and affirmations. The material is designed to be used in different contexts, and can be reproduced for any non-commercial purpose.

Following this “core material,” are suggestions for exploring and using it in three ways:

Path 1. Personal Development.

  • You can explore the core material as a way of developing your own personal confidence and creativity. If you do, your faith in God, in yourself and in others will be deepened; enriching your life of prayer and your understanding of the Gospel, and enhancing your impact on those around you.
  • Following this path, you are invited to read, pray, reflect and take action. Reading and praying are good, but the real challenge is to apply the teaching to yourself in the written exercises, and then to take action.
  • Reflection helps us prepare for change, but change only happens when we take action. This is why taking action is so important - and so often difficult.
  • Don’t just imagine abundance. Claim it.
  • If you take up this challenge, you will learn a lot about yourself in ways that will help you empower and equip others. If you take up this challenge, you will become more effective in whatever you do. But only if you take up the challenge to apply the lessons to yourself – and to act on them.
  • What we read informs us. What we pray will form us. What we do transforms us.

The question is: Do you want to be healed? Do you believe that God wants you to enjoy abundance?

Path 2. Group Development.

  • You can use the core material as a way of developing the life of a small group. Your ability to do this will be magnified if you have first worked through the whole course on your own. This is because we teach what we have internalised.   Internalising a new way of thinking takes time, reflection and practice. Repetition reinforces what we are learning. Acting on it commits us to the new path. It makes the lesson specific, concrete and personal. When we speak and act in response to what we are learning, the lesson begins to change us. As we are changed, we begin to change others. We become part of a process of transformation. In the long term, there are no short-cuts.
  • However, if you need to begin work with a group right away, it is not absolutely essential to complete the whole course in advance of your first meeting with them. You can make a start this week, this Sunday – or whenever you next get together.
  • But please, at the very least, ensure that you build space for your own personal work into the time that you spend preparing the material for the group. This is not a matter of improving your presentation. The fact is that, unless you do this personal work, you will not understand what the lesson is teaching.
  • There is also a practical issue in favour of taking a little longer to prepare and plan before leading this course with a group. Most of the suggested activities use items that will be easily available, but one requires the investment of some money. Say £10 per head. This activity is not really optional because in many ways it summarises and symbolises everything the course is about. If you want to run the course, you will need to consider how to fund this.
  • Here are some options:
    • hold a fund-raising event
    • ask the church council to underwrite the course
    • ask the congregation for donations
    • ask a larger church, or the circuit, to help you with a grant or donations
    • ask friends to invest in your group
    • save up the money yourself by going without something else
    • sell something of value in order to raise the cash

The question is: Do you want others to share in the abundance you have received?

Path 3. Renewing the Church

  • You can use the core material as a way of developing the life of a congregation. Your ability to do this will be magnified if you have first worked through the whole course on your own and with a few others. This is because as more and more people become involved, the process becomes both more creative and more complex.
  • You will not be able to control all its ramifications, but that does not matter.
  • However, you will need the support of a few others who have also begun to internalise these lessons in order to follow through all the creative possibilities that will begin to emerge. And to support you in the practicalities. Working with a small group, you will also have support as the process of revitalisation awakens fear or encounters resistance. Working together, you will find it easier to keep your eye on the prize, and your feet on the road.

The question is: Do you want the Church to become a place of abundance for all?

Offer model prayers and suggestions for praying our way through this.

designed to “feed” Christians, especially those in leadership roles, through their personal reflection, Bible study and prayer, so that they are encouraged and equipped for the work they do or the role they fulfil. Although the book is designed for personal use, it contains a lot of material (creative writing, questions, meditations etc.) which could be used or adapted for group work or corporate worship.

Print Email

Write comment (0 Comments)

Summary 3: Starting Where We Are

Here and Now

  • The journey to where we are is the preliminary to starting where we are. Where we are is where God is. The place where God is near. Christ is the door to seeing this, the way into the inner room, the beginning of the inner journey.   We meet God in the here and now by making the most of the present moment.
  • Living in the present moment, we learn the value of moments; moments that take a lot of unpacking, that expand the present to become infinite and eternal. Here and now is where we live, where we receive the good news, where the resources of God become available to us.   We access those resources by paying attention to what we have in our hands, here and now, by being real before God and choosing to believe.
  • The good news is often resisted, but there are reasons why it is resisted and by working with those reasons, resisters can become witnesses. By working with the resistance we discover within ourselves, we travel from where we are to where we want to be.

Seeing Visions, Dreaming Dreams

  • The transforming power of a vision. Imagining ourselves as free. A vision of life. Imagining abundance.
  • Vision. What vision is not. What vision is. Examples of vision. Seeing abundance. Allowing grandeur to give us pause.
  • Why vision is important. We are renewed by abundance.
  • Making the vision real. Vision and strategy.
  • Discernment.
  • What was Jesus' vision? How Jesus saw himself.
  • Meeting the multitude. How Jesus saw the crowd. How Jesus sees us.
  • What did Jesus show us? What we show others.
  • How Jesus made his vision real.
  • Holding onto the big picture. Creating vision. Creating a vision that is shared. Creating choices.
  • Boundaries and obstacles.
  • Choosing what we see. Creating the life we want.

Seeing and Being Seen

  • What we see and what we have to deal with are related; our focus determines our reality. What we see and how we are seen are related. If we see enemies all around us, we will create more enemies than we would have had otherwise. God sees us as we are, but that sight is positive and creative; God loves us as we are and sees our potential. Knowing we are received enables us to receive the child. Knowing ourselves beloved is foundational to learning to love ourselves.
  • The love of God is a three-stranded love: the love of three Persons as One: and what God asks of us in return is a threefold love: love of God, of our neighbour and ourselves. To love our neighbour, we must learn to negotiate between our neighbour's needs and our own.
  • If we are to receive the love of God we must allow ourselves to receive from others. This begins with our willingness to receive at all, to "open the box". It also means learning to say no, understanding when our heart is not in something, when we are being assaulted or abused, when we need to resist in order to defend the core of who we are.

The Rainbow Personality

  • The "praying personality" is made up of many dimensions or aspects. Body, heart, mind (memory, reason, imagination), will and spirit. The process of prayer is a way of uncovering these layers and discerning how they work together and how they work against one another.
  • In the process of this exploration, we may feel that we are being stripped down to nothing, but we become empty so that we can be filled. We are cleansed so that we can become more healthy. We are hollowed out so that we can become ourselves. We learn the relative value of our various energies so that we can gather them and align them Godward and act with all we are. When we do this, we are more than the sum of our parts. Our integrity gives us, not only authenticity but also authority.

Aiming for Integrity

  • The process of bringing all our various aspects together so that they work together and receive/transmit the love and grace of God is the life-long process of aiming for integrity and working towards a greater honesty, attention and trust. In the process, we learn gratitude towards God who loves us despite our failings and a greater degree of acceptance towards ourselves and our failings.
  • Jesus affirms us. Jesus says "yes" to us. But to accept ourselves, we have to challenge the critical voice in our heads. The voice that is the voice of those who belittled us when we were children or youngsters. We affirm ourselves and our direction and in doing so, gain the courage to say "I am" in both positive and negative senses. "I am beautiful" or "I am angry".
  • This process requires us to do our own work on our own experience. God's grace assists our efforts. In being prepared to play our part, we find the more life, the more strength we need to do God's work. We learn how even our weakness serves God, because in acknowledging it and offering it and being honest, attentive and trustful through it, our weakness conveys God's grace.   But we have to gather our tools, practise using them, develop our toolbox, listen to the teacher and become ourselves by listening to ourselves.
  • It is a process, too, of entering into a number of conversations - with ourselves, challenging our own assumptions, with our questions, by staying with them and listening to them and refining them, by learning to play, when to stand firm, how to climb the stairs one by one, how to offer all we are.

The Individual and the Body

  • Even when we pray in solitude, we do not pray alone. By the spirit, we are connected to everyone else who prays and everyone else who longs to pray, or has a longing within them that they do not recognise or that they sense but cannot articulate. The individual is part of the Body. Jesus says yes to other people too. We learn from others, we celebrate one another, but we also learn the limits of other peoples' compassion.
  • We learn where to place ourselves in prayer and work, how to place ourselves between, how to set ourselves aside so that we become fully focused on others. We gather wisdom, learn to speak, learn to speak to our time. We learn how to trust others, and how to trust God for the world.

Print Email

Write comment (0 Comments)

Summary 4: The Way

The Days of Creation:

  • The Way. The days of creation. Created for joy.
  • Ocean, mountain, stream. The water of life. Uncovering the well. At the well. Stream of life. The overflowing measure.
  • Outward and inward baptism. Baptism as process. Immersed in abundance. Resourced by abundance.  
  • Learning to feel deprived. Learning to be a reservoir. Sustaining flow.
  • Allowing the stream to cleanse us. Cleansing the temple. Transformed by abundance.

A Life-Giving Way

  • More about the process. A way of bringing life into the situation. A life-giving way.
  • Reimagining the kingdom. The secret of the kingdom. A life-giving way. Jesus' way to life. What the way will do for us.
  • Learning to apply the way. Finding the courage to leap. Acting ahead of the evidence. Acting as if.
  • The process enables a meeting of extremes. Contradiction unresolved. Taking the first step. Taking the next step. Allowing ourselves to faith.
  • The value of the small. One step at a time. Step by step.
  • Staying on the road. The ultimate test of the way.

Those who prepare the Way

  • Those who prepare the Way. Why John baptised. Jesus' experience of baptism. Jesus, John and Elijah. The baptism Jesus offered. Mission as overflow. The mission. What we need to know.

The Way of Descent

  • The Way. Understanding our environment. Towards the promised land. People of hope in the desert.
  • The way of descent.
  • The call of the desert. The desert road. Choosing the desert. Why the journey is difficult. How the journey is possible. From oasis to oasis.
  • A contrary wind. The land of bondage. Creating a purposeful pause. The creative gap. Crossing the divide. Imagining our broad place. Investing in the process. Remaining flexible. Deeper into trust.

Healing and being healed

  • Abundant life for all. The scale of pain. Healing and being healed.
  • A space for healing. The wounded healer. Healing the wounds of the world.
  • Following God's way to peace.
  • Fallible and frail. Resourced for healing. Anointing for healing.
  • A wholeness glimpsed in passing/experienced in passing. Accepting. Complex acceptance. Taking action. Risking our "purity". Living in hope.

Print Email

Write comment (0 Comments)

More Articles ...