It is interesting being back in the place where I grew up. While there are a lot of positive memories here, there are also some dark ones, and I was surprised to have a few of them surface on this trip back to the prairies. One of my responses was to get annoyed at the small town dynamic and the restrictive nature of this whole place. And then I realised that freedom is never an external issue: it is a battle that is won or lost in my own soul. The fact that this place could call to life feelings of disappointment that made me want to leave town was not primarily an indication of the shortcomings of said community, but a sign that I was not truly free inside. Freedom is free anywhere! That's its nature.
So I went to the only place that always shows me a way out of my every predicament: the place of surrender. I told God that I was willing to let go all the disappointment (legitimate and illegitimate), forgive all the misunderstandings, and release all the idealistic expectations and comparative standards that I had placed on this growing-up place. And I was willing to let him search my heart for whatever was still harbouring resentment, unforgiveness, pride, and whatever other black holes might be draining love, grace, courage, thankfulness, and freedom from my life. I had done this before, but I needed to do it again.
That's the thing about freedom. It is not a one-time medal that I win and it's done (Jesus did that part); it is a place that I have to consciously go to and habitate every day - sometimes fighting off wild wolves of anger or envy that snap their sharp teeth at me, sometimes just planting my butt in the centre of the big chair of peace and refusing to let it be torn from underneath me by all the hurricanes that blow through.
Like flying, freedom cannot be grasped, but it is always as close as letting go. It is also as easily lost as hauling myself back into the safety of the nest when I should be out there catching a cold updraft of air. I choose freedom. Every day. Every hour. Bumpy as the ride may be, it is still freedom. And I LOVE FREEDOM!
This is a photo I took of the unsettled sky over the prairie landscape on Thursday night.