If I were more creative then I should be able to find and upload pictures to accompany these wanderings. I’ll get back to you on that one! In conversation with some of my newly made American friends I ask about the values that shape this large, diverse and contradictory country. The answer is unequivocal Freedom. As I write this the radio has fallen silent to remember eight soldiers that have been killed in Iraq – I wonder what freedom really means. How free do any of us feel? What limits our freedom?
I don’t think that freedom is something that we can easily orchestrate – it takes us by surprise. If or when it comes we see it for what it is – perhaps as unperceptable but as real as the grass under our feet. Freedom is the other side of our vulnerablity. We have grounds for fear because there are many threats to our freedom. There are many ways that we become entrapped, ensnared and eventually destroyed. I am reminded of the ways in which we can destroy one another with careless gossip or vindictive comment.
I don’t think that there are any set formulas for freedom but we do have choices. we have the freedom to choose what we will or will not do. I came across this poem by an American poet William Stafford :
Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.
If you do not have things right in your life
you will be overwhelmed:
you may be heroic, but you will not be wise.
If you have things right in your life
but do not know why,
you are just lucky, and you will not move
in the little ways that encourage good fortune.
The saddest are those not right in their lives
who are acting to make things right for others:
they act only from the self-
and that self will never be right:
no luck, no help, no wisdom.
The Little Ways to Encourage Good Fortune ( William Stafford)
The fortune of which Stafford speaks has been understood in our time and place and especially in this country as material success. But I think that the good fortune of which he speaks is the living of satisfying daily lives, where our spirits are free and there is joy and love in our hearts. That’s my vision and hope for Christianity – not as a constricting religion but as an adventure. How can we get the church to model that?
I’m laying my books aside for part of today to discover what treasures lie in the Washingtion National Gallery. Wish me luck! And remember God underwrites our freedom to choose with love.