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Speaking to the Soul: Freedom

Speaking to the Soul: Freedom

by Laurie Gudim

John 8:21-32

Buds are opening everywhere, birthing tender leaves of the brightest green.  They crawl instinctively out into the air and reach upward toward sun and sky.  In the past few weeks small birds have come to flit among them, flashing bits of wing and tail – now white, now red, now shiny black.  And underneath all this the squirrels chase around the tree trunks, flipping their feathery tails.

Lately I’ve been hearing the same paradox conveyed in many ways:  true freedom is only gained through complete surrender to God.  As Paul reminds us, we live – and move – and have our being in God.  And for this reason, we are told, true freedom, the permission and opportunity to be who we most deeply are, only comes when we give up control and allow the pulsing creativity that expresses God, the heartbeat of the Universe, to inform and guide us.

This knowingness, this wholeness, is in each living creature I see today.  All are coming into their unique expression, living out who they are profoundly meant to be.  Through the entire cycle of their lives, they become more and more themselves.  The truth of who they are is ever-evolving, differentiating, filling out.  Through it all they rest in God.

I love the idea that my creative urge is a small segment of God’s, and that God’s creativity is what causes me to be.  Yet unlike the new leaves opening today, as I unfold into bigger and more complex personhood, I am always having to get out of my own way.  Every chance it gets, my mind tries to take credit for who I am and attempts to regulate who I will become.  It’s like being a flea on the back of a plow horse and thinking I can control where we’re going.  I forget that it is only in God that I become whole.

Jesus doesn’t forget; Jesus gives himself over to God constantly, voluntarily.  He is at one with God.  In today’s lesson from the Gospel of John, he tells us that God is always with him, God never leaves him, and because of this he always does what is pleasing to God.

You might say this is easy for Jesus because he is part of the Trinity.  But that’s just the thing.  The Trinity invites us to participate as well.  It is in partaking in this way with God, uniquely, as only we can, that we become truly ourselves.

The creativity that runs through the world in all its moments sings in our hearts too.  “You will know the truth,” Jesus says, but I don’t think this is a matter of understanding principles or laws.  We know the truth in the dynamic artistic expression that emerges when we rest in God.  Living, moving and having our being, like tadpoles in the great pond of God, we unfold the truth, and it is this which makes us free.



Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO.  You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.


Image: By Axel Kristinsson from Reykjavík, Iceland – Apple Blossoms, CC BY 2.0, Link


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Steven Wilson

This is the very blossom photo we have used in our “Grace Church Bible Garden” page in the last week, discussing the way crab apples and tulips, anemones and narcissi, have burst forth all in symphony. While both of us are borrowing the un-copyrighted image of crab apples (malus spp.), I think it’s worthwhile to note that sometimes, simply doing the sweaty unpleasant work of gardens–digging, weeding, planting, hoeing, pulling, grafting, digging up, pruning–might be worth more than all the high powered theological pondering and thinking which seems our institutional norm these days.

Laurie Gudim

A few months ago I would probably have agreed with you, but I’m learning that my ministry touches hearts and opens minds in very important ways. It doesn’t have to be either-or. Groping for just the right word can be every bit as encouraging of growth as is loosening soil or pruning.

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