Reflections: Wanting to be free
People often take vacations to seek freedom from the world and daily life. You dream of a time when children are gone, you're able to quit work, or at least leave your usual routine and responsibilities for awhile. "I'm finally rid of the demands and rigors of life. It's my time," you say. Then you relaxes and waits for the solitude and respite you thinks you rightfully deserve. But can anyone ever achieve complete freedom to do as he fully chooses? I think not!
A week or so ago my husband and I embarked on a short weekend visit with family members who live far away. Everything was put in order at home. Bags were packed, and meetings and jobs were attended to and caught up for a while. At last, freedom was in sight. We even planned a longer, more scenic route, as we usually do when time allows. The two of us had planned our course and all was well, we thought. We shopped along our route and viewed the scenery, favorite rewards of our road trips.
However, God had other more valuable plans that caused us to delay our visit until another date. A longtime friend passed away. About halfway to our destination, we turned around and drove back home. Our house became filled with our children wanting to offer love and support to their friends. The days we were together were well spent. Matters of life and death were discussed among our children, who normally shunned such conversations. There was indeed a purpose for the postponement of our journey. We were honored to share intimate, sad and also beautiful moments with the family of the deceased. I listened when the woman's son said his mother didn't discover a cure for cancer or travel around the world but she was there to tuck him in bed at night. We, too, remembered virtues of that mother.
Arrangements change and independence hides in the distance, but its there. Freedom is a state of mind that you can only reach within your spirit. You can never genuinely "fly like a bird" except within your heart. Life has a way of holding you down. A stone of some sort always hangs around your neck. Contrary to the implication of that statement, stones can be assets. Rocks lend stability and comfort -- a sense of steadfastness, belonging and purpose.
Discover peace inside and you can stay where you are and experience freedom. When one runs away from what he needs to face he feels alone. His freedom fails to deliver the joy he expected. Romans 12:2 tells people how to truly fly. "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." Renew your mind and you'll find that freedom lies there -- inside your heart.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.