Set free


“Unbind Her” by Anna Woofenden, 2014

Anna Woofenden’s picture Unbind Her prompted me to ponder the difference between being bound and unbound. Her depiction of breaking free from the bindings and leaping away conjures up images of being free enough to soar into a new direction.

The idea of breaking free and leaping into some unknown future is appealing. But, breaking free can be difficult—just ask anyone who has walked away from an addiction to alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships, food, shopping or anything else that had kept them bound. It can be very challenging to walk away from a life lived in bondage, no matter how unsatisfactory or even painful that life might have been.

It is not always easy to walk away from people, situations or self-images that bind us. The old way is familiar, and finding a new way can present lots of challenges. Change often calls for a great deal of determination, discipline and perseverance; it involves saying “no” to what was previously a “yes.”

This Lent, I have been reflecting on times in my life when I turned away from relationships, jobs and behaviors that were holding me back. Sometimes my turning away was short-lived and I quickly returned to that which held me bound—old habits die hard. Other times, though, I have been able to stay strong in my resolve. Mostly, though, I feel I have been slowly chipping away at behaviors and beliefs that needed to be changed, those things that bound me.

Incremental changes over the years have added up and I can see that I am a much different person today than I was forty years ago. The invitation of Woofenden’s picture, though, is to ask if I am free enough to leap.

At the Easter Vigil last night, the priest talked about the leap of faith required of the apostles to believe the reports of Jesus’ resurrection and how we need to make that same leap to be followers of Jesus.

As he spoke, I imagined the scene at the tomb when Mary Magdalene and the other women had gone to tend to Jesus’ body and found that Jesus was gone. I could see them telling the apostles, and the apostles disbelieving them. I imagined Peter running to see for himself. Their emotions must have been all over the place—sadness at Jesus’ death, confusion that his body was gone and hope that something fantastic was happening.

Even imagining this emotional firestorm gave me pause. Am I free enough to feel strong emotions? Or do I keep my emotions in check? How would it feel, I wondered, if I let myself experience the range of emotions Mary and the others felt that first Easter?

I fear I have been afraid to feel.

My Easter prayer is to be set free so that I may experience deep joy, be open to possibilities, and be courageous enough to respond to God’s invitation to live fully. I want to leap into the future and trust that the best is yet to come.



10 thoughts on “Set free

  1. annemarielom

    Happy Easter, Madeline. May you been unbound in numerous situations. Thank you for your very practical and profound reflection.

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      I thought of you, too, and wondered if Dave was reading–and with whom? I did not get assigned to read at my church so I went to my sister’s church with her family and my mother. It was lovely–six Baptisms, beautiful music (they have their own bell choir) and so happy to be with my family. Easter blessings.

  2. Patrick

    Reminds me of a “talk” (The Talk) Joan gave me yesterday about women (In the Church) (her specifically) needing to take this leap (away from the Patriarchal tomb of The Church). She wonders about my clinging. I trust there are diverse ways of “leaping”. Your image struck me because of its color and femininity! Blessed faith-filled leaping to everyone on this event-full day of Easter!

  3. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    A friend and I were talking about the Patriarchal nature of the Church the other day–and then I read a reflection on the Ignatian principal of being indifferent. I, too, trust there are diverse ways of “leaping” and I think that listening to what lies beneath what binds us is a key to becoming unbound. Easter blessings–joy.

  4. Lizzy

    “I fear I have been afraid to feel.” — I believe that the “fear of feeling” is in all of us to some degree or another. Sometimes I wish I had no emotions at all just so I would not have to have such a heavy heart about all that goes on around me. But if that were the case, my heart would be cold, calloused, and without love to give.

      1. Lizzy

        It is easy to happen. I have recently come out of such a season of my life asking God to re-ignite my passion for Him. Never let the devil take away what God has given you — a heart that loves and cares for all that is good in His name. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” — Jesus in John 10:10. Never give him the chance.

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