Freedom – An Easter Memory and a Post-Easter Contemplation
My Easter memory takes me back to my days as a missionary’s kid (MK) based in Jamaica when Easter was almost always an extensive, all-encompassing, multiple service ordeal filled with abundant ministry activities. One special payoff of this relentless holy week crusade was that it made Easter Sunday afternoon relaxation all the sweeter. My favorite spot for these restorative getaways was a Christian retreat center tucked deep in Blue Mountain, Jamaica’s highest peak (and home to the country’s world-renowned Blue Mountain coffee). There was so much to enjoy on that mountain and in those retreat cottages; however, nothing was more enjoyable than this particular ravine in the mountain that would channel the mountain’s air gusts into a breezy boomerang. The thrill of throwing my Air Jordan cap into that ravine, watching it disappear into the ravine’s depths, and then seeing the wind return my treasured cap to me along the side of the mountain was so uniquely exhilarating. Over and over again, I’d toss and retrieve my cap hooked on the particular feeling of freedom which came from chucking my valuable to the wind and trusting nature to return it to me – and that cap was valuable indeed because I loved and still love me some…
(insert the impassioned voice of your favorite sports broadcaster here).
When I ponder life after Easter, I think of how freedom encapsulates many nuanced definitions and hence many varied expressions within our lives. The freedom I felt at that ravine seems so different from the freedoms associated with our “American freedoms”. The “pursuit of happiness” is present in both; however, the sense of “sharing” within each seems so vastly different. Over my childhood and teenage years, the joy I experienced from that ravine grew considerably each time I shared that little ravine with others. However, it seems that many of the key freedoms associated with our American freedom seem much more difficult to share – such as, the right to bear arms, the right many claim to make individual decisions concerning COVID restrictions in the name of the American way of life, and the right to accumulate wealth to fuel our American dreams. In fact, these freedoms seem to require that goodness and, in some cases, the very lives of others be jeopardized. Our right to bear arms seems to lead to tragic mass shootings, the right to ignore pandemic-based restrictions seems to contribute to our high COVID mortality rate, and the wealth and quality of life of the average American citizen seems to absorb a disproportional amount of our world’s resources when compared to that of citizens of less affluent nations.
“Freedom” is a complicated concept, and my short musings here are incomplete and are merely the thoughts of a pensive musician as opposed to a trained theologian or learned sociologist. However, my reflections leave me with questions that I believe are useful to me and that I’d like to share in the hopes that they are useful to others.
What are the freedoms currently in our lives?
Which freedoms are we actively pursuing?
What is the ideal definition and expression of freedom?
What is the shadow side of varying notions of freedom?
How can we respond to freedoms that impinge on the lives of others?