cringed. I tire of the flag being used by many as the symbol of freedom, a freedom with narrowly prescribed parameters often based in fear and exclusivity, not the America the founding fathers had in mind.
This particular morning though I smiled for the patriotic matchbook was part of an ongoing theme.
We had just arrived in the North Carolina mountains the night prior when I felt compelled to take photos of light, the setting sun light reflected on the Tuckaseegee River, lights at Bryson City's "Cork & Bean" and little Holy Spirit lights reflecting outside waiting to descend on unsuspecting passers-by.
I went to sleep that night contemplating light.
I awoke the next morning puzzled by a patriotic outburst in a dream. I had been on stage at the symphony belting out, "land of the free and home of the brave."
I got up, walked to the patio and there lay the matchbook with its message: "Freedom lights the way."
'Yes, it does,' I thought. Freedom does light the way. Every moment, I am gifted with the opportunity to choose my actions and attitude. Every moment I've the freedom to choose whether I will open or close my mind and heart to the people, experiences and possibilities along my path. When I choose the path of loving openness, there is a shift inside, a lightness lights my way.
Yet staying open and not closing my mind is challenging at times these days. Freedom is a hot word thrown about as guns, the economy, immigration, gay marriage and abortion are debated. Many focus on freedom as if there has to be an external enemy to whom we're continually reacting. At times we're our greatest enemy internally living in fear of this 'other' while reacting with suspicion and judgment. We become so focused on freedom in the U.S. we overlook the source of true freedom within US.
I suspect a few of the the founding fathers actually had this inner freedom in mind, something much more subtle and potent than fighting an external enemy in this experiment they named America.
I glimpsed an aspect of this level of freedom upon returning home from North Carolina and learning a friend was soon going home, to the big home, the Unknown.
It may sound strange but when I went to visit Mark I found myself seeing "Freedom light the way" as his face shined light. He was truly not afraid to die.
At the visitation I stood looking at photos taken in his last weeks and days. I could hardly pull myself away from the collage of snapshots as one shifted to another each reflecting a light in Mark's eyes and his smile. I thought, 'This is true freedom. The freedom to leap into the great Unknown with anticipation not fear.'
Except for the sadness of leaving his loved One behind, Mark joyfully made the big leap.
A terminal diagnosis sharpens the focus making one aware the earthly visit in this skin suit is time limited. Ironically we're all terminal as is each moment. One moment arrives then passes to make way for the next in the here and now we have. To live and love openly without fear is truly a great personal freedom.
Maybe this is partially why living on Earth, the land of such possible inner freedom and the home of the brave souls who come here, is so challenging and so dear. Our earth brains have grown accustomed to being wired for fear while our spirits are made for leaping and our hearts for loving.
I want to live in such a way that I joyfully leap into the Unknown every moment, every day. Freedom in this state regardless of where I live will surely light the way.
Mark, did you know you were teaching me this?
I suspect so.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse - 12 December 2011