For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become servants to one another.
Independent Day is a fine time for Christians who are also Americans to reflect on the nature of freedom and community. As much or more than any country, the United States operates between two poles: freedom of the individual and commitment to the national community. As Christians we navigate between our liberation from sin and punishment, and the call to act with both love, justice, and humility. How do we live into our true selves—the people God created us to be—without inadvertently doing harm to other people or the community at large? How do we act both freely and with self-control?
This week we offer a Blessing Prayer from poet John O’Donohue as instrument for reflection on these questions. May it be for you—and all of us—a window into the realm of divine possibility.
by John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us (Doubleday, 2008)
As a bird soars high
In the free holding of the wind,
Clear of the certainty of the ground,
Opening the imagination of wind.
Into the grace of emptiness,
May your life awaken
To the call of its freedom.
As the ocean absolves itself
Of the expectations of land,
In the form of waves
That fill and please and fall
With such gradual elegance
As to make of the limit
A sonorous threshold
Whose music echoes back along
The give and strain of memory,
Thus may your heart know the patience,
That can draw infinity from limitation.
As the embrace of the earth
Welcomes all who call death,
Taking deep into itself
The tight solitude of a seed,
Allowing it time
To shed the grip of former form
And give way to a deeper generosity
That will one day send it forth,
A tree into springtime,
May all that holds you
Fall from its hungry ledge
Into the fecund surge of your heart.