The Tree of Life

In Thoughts of a Blind Beggar, I wrote: “Imagination and thought have no place in meditation.” A good friend of mine, a Franciscan priest and author, wrote me a short note disagreeing with that statement. He gently reminded me of something St. Bonaventure wrote in his classic book The Tree of Life: “Since imagination aids understanding, I have arranged in the form of an imaginary tree a few items….” My statement reflects my mild interest in a more Eastern approach to spirituality. However, for the Franciscan, imagination is a key faculty in meditation and thought (understanding and mind are rooted in the same faculty of intellect), and becomes the basis for meditative reflection, hopefully leading one to some “fruit” or course of Gospel action. St. Francis of Assisi, my friend correctly pointed out, would not empty his mind but would meditate from the substance presented by the mind, excepting sin, of course.

The spiritual life has many trees,
each capable of bearing fruit.

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1 Response to “The Tree of Life”


  1. 1 krebsjoan October 7, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Two things: both positive. I’m glad about the spiritual life being an orchard rather than a single tree – inclusive rather than exclusive. I also love that other Franciscan who pointed out an importance to imagining because it’s based in experience. But you probably guessed that (“Consider the source!”) E pluribus Unum. or out of differences comes harmony. Thanks Gerry


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