by Laurie Gudim
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’ – Luke 17:20-21
As the new political regime in the U.S. begins to coalesce, the future looks bleaker and bleaker to me. I apologize to those of you who are celebrating its victory, but I cannot speak from a place other than the one I inhabit. All the movements to which I have given my heart for nearly fifty years are in terrible danger. As a consequence I feel like a patient who has just received a diagnosis of an illness almost certain to be terminal.
Colorado is beautiful right now. A warm fall lingers, and everywhere I look there are showers of gold and ruby against a lapis sky. During the past few days I have been drinking in the sights, memorizing them in anticipation of a time when I may no longer have them. And before the end I want to pilgrimage to all the places I have loved. I want to wait at dawn at the verge of the pine forest for the appearance of wolves and bear, to lie on my stomach and watch trout in the depths of a wild river, to breathe in the immense silence of the giant redwoods on the California coast. I want to thank all these places for having been, for having nourished me, and for expressing the exuberant creativity of God.
I cannot help that I feel so strongly that what is beautiful now is fleeting. And I cannot promise that I will ever be reconciled to the loss. But I can promise that I will continue in community and open-hearted love with people of all political persuasions. I will speak my truth, and I will listen well to yours. Nobody is evil, here. Our passions may divide us, but we all come by them honestly.
It is my spiritual practice that is sustaining me. The contemplative discipline of iconography grounds and inspires me. God is urging me to write new icons and to tell ancient stories. I’ll keep doing that.
And hopefully you will inform me as I inform you. The kingdom of God is not located in one political stance or another; it is not a place in the world at all. It is right here, right among us. We are called to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. We are called to follow the Way of Jesus into the unsparing compassion that protects and empowers all people – a compassion that literally demands everything of us. More than ever the world needs our witness.
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: Photo by Ann Fontaine