Thursday, November 11, 2010
I came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my high school and college years spanning 1965 to 1973. Southern Louisiana was not Berkeley, but it was also not immune from the political, social and economic changes affecting the United States.
A short and not inclusive list: the protests against the Vietnam war, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Yippies disrupting the 1968 Democratic convention, the Prague Spring and the resulting Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the pill, the growing use of marijuana and drugs, Elvis giving way to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, acid rock, the shootings at Kent State, riots, price controls, the first oil embargo and skyrocketing energy prices.
We heard about, experimented with and experienced peace, liberation and freedom. It must have been a scary time to be a parent and grandparent. I can remember my grandmother referring to me as a Beatle because my hair was longer than it had been when I was a child. She was trying to convince me to cut it, and it was the strongest thing she could think of to call me.
So much of what society considered as “freedom” turned out to be anything but. Much of it was simple license to do whatever we wanted, regardless of the consequences. And there were consequences. Many of the stresses, strains and fractures we live and deal with today can be traced to the craziness of the 1960s and 1970s.
At the end of my college years, I became a Christian, and began – and I emphasize the word “began” – to experience what I can only call freedom. It sounds almost contradictory – I became a Christian and embraced freedom. But it was a very different kind of freedom, a freedom based on love.
It’s a freedom that is about obedience, honor and worship, a freedom that embraces the idea that I am a part of God’s plan – a plan I do not know or have access to but I know how it ends. It’s a freedom that’s about faith in something I cannot physically feel but I still know is there, a freedom that has been granted to me in love.
It’s a freedom of my mind – to question and doubt, to explore, to be able not to accept anything simply because it’s being espoused by the guru of the month on Oprah. This freedom gives me the ability to understand what’s gold, and what’s dross.
It’s a freedom of the soul. I don’t get caught up in the creation vs. evolution debate, or all the excitement the so-called “new atheists” generate, because my soul knows what’s temporal and what’s eternal.
And it’s a freedom of the heart, a freedom to love and encourage, a freedom to be vulnerable and reach out to others who need as much love and encouragement as I do. It’s the freedom to know what I am made for.
I make mistakes. I fail. I fall down. I disappoint people. None of those things are “okay.” But they happen because I have the freedom to be taught and to learn.
These are things that no hand of man can take away.
Over at Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray has asked the question, “How is God setting you free?” To see more posts on freedom, visit her place.
Photograph: Old Celtic Cross by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with persmission.