Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shadows and Freedom

Have you ever noticed how two thoughts which seem unrelated can wind themselves together, twining this way and that to form a vine? I had two thoughts and over the last few days, they have sort of twined together.

I live in a small town; it’s a nice little town on the river and home to several large companies. It’s a typical small town with typical small town structures. There are restaurants and a fire department, homes and schools. I enjoy during the school year watching children walk to the elementary school as I drive to work. In the summer, it is replaced with afternoon skateboard and bicycles. An ice cream truck can be heard often during this hot time. I know my neighbors names and they are lovely neighbors. It’s not a perfect town; there are problems inherent in every area. There is crime and poverty which I wish wasn’t there. It is the longest I have ever lived anywhere, over 12 years! It is the longest by far (by over 8 years). So, I have lived here long enough to know that if I go straight at that one road and turn at another, that I will pass a patch of beautiful black-eyed-susans. And, it is an odd reassurance to know that my pharmacist, who knows my name, can also quote Shakespeare. I know that there are many who feel stifled here, they look around and see the limits. One such asked me not to long ago why I didn’t just take off and declare “freedom”. But, I’m not sure that that is what freedom looks like to me.
The other was just a moment, just a few seconds. On my way home from work, I needed to stop and run an errand. I drove up the street and the city jail was directly in front of me. I saw a shadow of a large bird move across the small high panes of glass in the jail. I wondered in that ephemeral moment if that was a sad reminder to the men and women in the jail. If that shadow passed through the window, the shadow of a bird epitomizing freedom, passed through the window, would it be something that rips their heart a bit?
The freedom of a bird, the freedom of choices, freedom to be and do and live and love – what is freedom? Is freedom the bird that flies from spot to spot? The sparrow which alights outside my window and splashes in the water with great abandon has a type of freedom. When my dog gets up she has a day full of naps and playtime and running, a different kind of freedom. I do have freedom. I have freedom to make a go of my job or not, to make a friend or not, to be pleasant or have an attitude, to work hard or hardly work. I also have a freedom to be what I was meant to be. Not the meant to be of romantic Victorian novels and the fates. But, meant to be as in the gifts and tasks and plans God has for me that are just for me, and those for you that are just for you. When I spurn those gifts, I feel more like the prisoner watching the bird out the window. Instead, I want to be more like the sparrow, splashing about with joy and abandon in the water. Thus, the two thoughts twine together and form something a bit more coherent, a bit stronger, as I define freedom for me.