The Orthodox Church Museum of Finland

The Orthodox Church Museum of Finland

What is freedom, and what are its dimensions?

Every living creature has the ability to sense space. Through its spiritual and physical being, every creature has its own form and structure, be it nature, human or animal. For instance, when building a house, painting a scenery, arrangement or icon – or even when doing nothing at all – we cannot avoid being present in a space. It is impossible to escape that ever-changing space. In return, the space takes different forms and dimensions according to the changing relationships between the person and objects surrounding him.

Outer, physical circumstances create boundaries and obstacles for us. At times, the physical space can even become a prison to us living in it. The space controls our freedom.

However, we have an inner, spiritual world, which knows no boundaries or obstacles. "The wind blows wherever it pleases." (John 3:8)

This is not to say that living in that inner world would automatically make us free. 

The spiritual world can also become a prison for us. However, living in it provides us with a possibility to achieve true freedom.

We can achieve true freedom by living our lives taking risks, pursuing creativity and searching, and not allowing ourselves to fossilize. It is not important whether our creativity takes the form of a prayer, painting an icon or painting, or something else – all of our actions can be done either with life or in a fossilized manner. 

By freedom I do not mean that we should shut ourselves into our spiritual worlds and become independent and isolated from the world around us. Quite the contrary, we can achieve freedom through loving all of creation, other people and God out of our free will. 

The most important thing is to understand that the spiritual and the physical, the inner and the outer create one, inseparable whole. 

We can achieve freedom by seeing things without dividing them into the outer and inner, or the subject and its object. We all are objects of influence in the world, but simultaneously subjects molding the space surrounding us. Not even the smallest thing comes without having an impact on the surrounding space. Being able to look at things this way gives us a new way of percieving the world. Or perhaps it is not anything new at all, but something God has encouraged us to follow since ancient times. Building ourselves and our perceptions on this view of the world can be the key to our salvation and the salvation of the world. Taking part in the spiritual world, the dimensions of which are beyond our understanding, sets us free.  

The mission of an artist is to encourage this participation, widen the sphere of our love, either by opening our eyes to see the utmost beauty and uniqueness of creation, or by conveying the imperfections and pain of the world.

Yurij Yarin