I have been fighting the most wicked summer cold. It began to take me down last weekend and then resulted in two and a half days off from work with no change in my symptoms despite tons of sleep. My ears have been so plugged I feel like I am on an eternal airplane ride and the smallest tasks, whether at work or at home seem to take monumental effort. So when Thursday afternoon at work rolled around and the knowledge of a three day weekend sank in, visions of N-Quil and my pillow danced in my head.
Since Thursday night until now, I have moved from my bed to my porch and back to my bed again, soaking up the sun and zzzzz’s in ample doses. Because I sound like hell, no one has pressured me to attend any Fourth of July barbecues thus giving me true independence from structure. While I very much want to get better (and come Monday better be) lying in bed uninterrupted has been heaven. I think my body just said, “f— it! I’m tired!”
So as I think about today being Independence Day, I wonder what it means to be free. Is freedom an actual external state, in which we are released from some sort of bondage or a state of mind? While I never want to take the freedoms being an American citizen affords me for granted, I realize much of my bondage is an internal state, driven by stress, worry and warped perspective. How is it that some days I feel completely trapped by circumstances and other days not? And how can I feel imprisoned when there are those who suffer in parts of the world beyond my deepest imagining?
So I wonder how much my attitude determines my sense of freedom. Have I been captive to my cold or has it provided me the ultimate freedom? Is work something that constricts me, robbing me of free time and spontaneity or liberating me because the pay check it provides allows me to support myself? And are my inner demons threatening to strangle my life force or are they the things that take me closer to the heart of my soul and God?
I remember the freedom that came after my parents deaths because I no longer feared something terrible would happen. But I also know the emotional pain from their deaths exacts its own price. I know the freedom that comes with being single and having no partner or children to tie me down, but I also know isolation can trap people as much as relationships can. I think the only time I feel truly free is when I’m focused on God and when I’m creating (and there is a direct relationship between the two because I think God gives us creativity as a conduit to Him).
So, as I sit here with my cold – with my plugged up ears, OJ, nasal spray and chicken soup (I’ve been denied anti-biotics)- I thank God for Independence Day. For helping my body surrender, for the incredible sunshine, for the freedoms of this country and for His unending love, which is the only thing that keeps me truly free from my own insanity.
God bless America and bless you God!