Much of the time I get material from the things I read. But sometimes I hear interesting things. Such was the case yesterday. I was with a group of people whom I very much like. They are gracious. They are warm and quite hospitable. I like to sit back and watch them do what seems very natural. I long ago concluded that people who live in the Spirit do what comes natural to the Spirit.
I think people of the Spirit naturally begin to focus on others, rather than themselves. People of the Spirit know the first thing you do is to welcome the other. They do this even if the “other” is stranger. I am sure they see a stranger who has not yet become a friend. That is a neat way of looking at the world. It certainly is a way of peace making.
It is a way that begins in trust and hopes for the best. Some would call this naïve. The bolder critics would call it stupid! It is naïve and stupid if defending our own ego is the most important thing. We all know the world’s perspective too often is to “get yours before someone else gets theirs.” This can be a recipe for success---in worldly terms.
It can bring wealth and fame. It is a good way to win superficial friends. However, it sets up a situation where the “get mine first” people have to be very careful. In fact, they usually have to be defended. They frequently operate out of a mode of fear and insecurity. They are vulnerable to someone being stronger or smarter. They are sitting ducks for the next person operating out of their same mind-set. They may be wealthy or famous, but they are not free.
When we talk about freedom in this country, it is tricky. Of course, nearly everyone in America assumes that we are a “free country.” And indeed, we are. There is so much freedom and we all should be very grateful. It is a precious treasure. We can talk about freedom in the political sense and, certainly, the religious sense. I am free to be whatever kind of religion I want to be. I also am free not to be religious at all. I am even free to make fun of the various religions and religious people and that it ok.
There are other kinds of freedom besides political and religious. Let’s talk about psychological freedom. That may seem a bit more subjective and more difficult to ponder. If you are not quite sure how to think about psychological freedom, then begin with the idea of dependency. It is easy to see that babies are not psychologically free. They are very dependent---for a whole range of needs. As the baby grows up, the hope is that he or she will become more independent.
Many folks manage to achieve some kind of healthy independence. Some of us even get to the mature place of being interdependent. That is a worthy goal of all of us. But not all achieve a mature, healthy phase. Some folks are stuck in a real place of dependence. And others might even be forced or coerced to be dependent.
Sometimes human beings do this to other humans. Probably it has been true that males have coerced women to be dependent. We can cite religious traditions that promote a kind of spiritual dependence. Individuals who are dependent are not free people. They are in a kind of bondage. There might be a future for dependent people, but there is not much hope. A hopeless future is not much of a future!
This is where I return to yesterday’s words of the speaker. He talked about imagination. I admit I very much like the idea of imagination. He even used the phrase, imagination to be free. That resonated with me. In fact, it could be the key to freedom. Let’s explore it briefly.
We can think about two ways that people are not free. One way to lack freedom is to be stuck. There are lousy ways to be stuck. These we usually know. We may be stuck by circumstances or by our own choosing. Imagination is a great way to see how to become free of our stuckness.
Another way that people are not free is fear. If I am “scared to death,” I am not free. Even lesser fears make me captive to the emotion. Again, imagination can be useful to see how to escape our fears. Imagination works to create alternative futures. For example, through imagination there probably are a few different ways to get over or beyond particular fears. Our imagination enables us to be free.
I find that linking my imagination to the world of God’s Spirit is powerful. God’s Spirit never asks for dependency. God’s Spirit offers freedom---radical freedom to be who we were created to be. God wants us to be free in order to serve through love. That is the radical kind of freedom I saw in the people of the Spirit. I want to be free of any fear or stuckness that prevents this kind of service. With some imagination, I can be free.