As I was watching a hummingbird at our feeder this morning (heart-piercingly vulnerable – her tiny throat moving out and in as she swallowed) I experienced one of those moments of stepping outside myself. There I was, a huge mammal, sitting behind glass at a desk – and there she was, a tiny broadtail, free to fly around in the world, eating a breakfast provided for her without cost. Surely she had found a use for my opposable thumbs.
My worries uncoiled like a spool of movie film and fell lifeless at my feet. I wondered what had given them the power to flicker before my vision in an endless stream, generating a huge weight of useless emotion about what might happen if I didn’t shape up.
There was the Holy, right there in the connection between human and bird, between bird and world, between me and world. There was Christ, the incarnate God – there was Jesus – his enfolding love – freedom.
In our reading from Second Corinthians today Paul speaks a mystical truth. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
In the way we run our lives have we, I wondered, substituted the work ethic for the Hebrew law? Now we don’t care so much about whether we eat shellfish or not, but heaven help us if we arrive at the job late or don’t get the assignment done. Heaven help us if we neglect the laundry or don’t budget our money properly.
Whimsically I considered what it would be like to proclaim that Jesus had come to fulfill the Protestant Work Ethic instead of saying he had come to fulfill the Law. Strangely, the thought brought relief and happiness. What is our work and the stewardship of our resources for if not to bring love, wholeness and well being into our lives and the lives of those for whom we care? But Christ is the source of all those things, the fulfillment of them.
At the very least, time for contemplative prayer ought to head our list of important things to do every day. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Laurie Gudim is an iconographer, writer and spiritual director living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Visit her website, for more information and to see a few of her images.