Today, July 4, is our nation’s birthday. For those intending to celebrate outside with cookouts, pool parties, and fireworks, the weather has been an issue. We’ve had thunderstorms and a steady rain for most of the day, casting a quieting effect over the day.
I don’t mind the rain. It has been ideal for relaxing at home with a stack of books and perfect for catching up on a webinar I missed yesterday. Instead of barbecue and homemade ice cream, I’ve enjoyed simple plant based meals at home. When the downpour slowed to a light rain, Greg suggested a walk at Mercy Park, to appreciate the day, just as it was.
Normally the city’s parks would be full of people on July 4. But the rain kept people home or drove them to shelters. Only one other walker was braving Mercy park when we arrived, and she carried an umbrella. I opted for a light weight hoodie over a long sleeved shirt and black leggings…definitely not a typical summer outfit but perfect for a brisk walk on this cool day.
As we circled the small lake at the heart of the park, I thought about the freedoms that I am so grateful for.
I love my country. Everyone, from the highest elected government official to the kids using technology to create their own You Tube channels, has the freedom to share their thoughts, views and perspectives. I am mindful on this day that celebrates independence that our freedom has been hard won and it is precious.
I love my community as well. Walking in this space where St John’s Hospital once stood reminds me that after the 2011 tornado, people were free to leave Joplin…or stay and rebuild. I am so grateful for those who chose to roll up their sleeves and stay, and for those who recognized the spirit of this city and came to help or chose to become one of us.
As I walked I felt deep appreciation and gratitude for my health. Freedom of movement is not something I take for granted. Freedom from pain, and freedom from illness and dis-ease are important freedoms to me as well today. My heart goes out to those who are suffering, as a result of accidents, injuries or illness. My desire is to walk alongside others and offer fresh hope for increased health and wellbeing.
I appreciated the freedom to not only walk physically, but also the freedom to walk as my genuine authentic self. While I hesitate to take the comparison too far, my freedom has been hard won as well. It has taken years of increasing awareness and deep inner work to live in the freedom, peace and joy that I currently do. I am thankful for all who have walked beside me, offering into my life with love, or with their criticisms, mirroring to me aspects of myself that I needed to explore.
As we completed our walk, we paused near the butterfly mural at the eastern edge of the park. The butterfly reminds me that freedom often requires great change. Transformation isn’t easy. And yet I am grateful for every challenge and time of rest that occured, resulting in the strength to face my fears and come out the other side, free to fully be myself, free to embrace my whole heart.
And freed as well was my creative nature. The little painted rock that we found at the base of the mural is symbolic of the new freedom I have to create and write and explore the areas of art that interest me. Painted rocks are a nationwide activity right now. Joplin has a club. People paint rocks and hide them in public places. This is the first painted rock I have found! I hid it in another location at Mercy Park.
As we drove away from the park, the rain began again in earnest. The timing of our “freedom” walk was perfect.
Franklin D Roosevelt said, “In the truest sense freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
I get that, on all levels. Freedom is achieved, through our thoughts and ideas, our actions and our unity, and through our willingness to learn and grow.
I am grateful for all of my freedoms.