Thursday 8 March 2012

To Dream the (Im)Possible Ignatian Dream

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

Once upon a time, I was passionate for the Arts and the ability it gives us to dream. In my years as a college and university student, that passion bordered on (L)insanity! I was full of zeal for poetry, film, music and literature. In a special way I turned to literature as my artistic inspiration. I was particularly taken with Russian literature.

The ‘Ruskies’ had such an impact on me that I suddenly began to dream about becoming someone that could write books that would both enchant readers, and challenge them to become better people. I yearned to be a writer that helped people to dream, but also empowered them to act against the injustice in our world.

When I left university, there was a shift: I emerged from the academic bubble I had been living in, and entered into ‘the real world’. This was a place where I worried about the future and struggled with present financial insecurity. In such an environment, my passions withered, and they were replaced by a need for escape. My dream of becoming a writer did not fade, but rather than cultivating it by writing, I turned to films and television. Oddly enough, my dream to captivate and challenge people was still nurtured by TV, especially by Josh Whedon. Every single week, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had me eagerly waiting to hear his wit, insights and wisdom through his characters. I envied and wanted to emulate this kind of writing very much. However, as with all earthly things, this show, and the influence it had on me wasn’t meant to last.

As I discovered my Jesuit vocation, my desire to write remained, but it changed colour: It was no longer a dream to write books that would be at par with what Dostoyevsky wrote. It was more a desire to be a voice for the voiceless, to bring the stories of the marginalized into the conscience of the general public. In short, Social Justice became more important to me than helping people dream. I guess I didn’t see much room for the imaginary in my spiritual (yet pragmatic) journey with Christ.

There was still one place where I still allowed myself to dream and that is the movie theatre. It is there, that another minor shift occurred in my life this past weekend, as I was watching the Scorcese’s film Hugo. It’s been a long time since a movie has been able to awaken my inner child, and revive my fascination for art that stirs people’s imagination, but also invites them to dream. This is exactly what Hugo did for me at so many levels!

One question remains: Could I genuinely hope to be a servant of God and of His children –especially the marginalized- through the power of imagination and dreams? Do I have the ability to develop this talent? As per usual, it’s not answers to these questions that I received in meditation, but simply an acceptance of the fact that, if it is God’s will, anything is possible. All I can do, is remain open, and to re appropriate the power of dreams to my Ignatian charism.

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