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The Fourth

Today I am tempted to avoid the contemplative call that seems to be there every morning, often with a new thought that I need to struggle through. This morning was exceptionally difficult. It’s the Fourth of July, when social media is filled with astonishing photos of wind driven flags, the Statue of Liberty and quotes promoting nationalism and liberty.

One such quote: “To be born free is a gift. To remain free is a struggle. To die free is a duty.”

We Americans are serious about Liberty, yet the passion that called men to such Liberty was much more than capitalism and free enterprise, though holding awesome outcomes for many when balanced with philanthropy. Yet at times, one must admit that our incarnate lust entangles us, spotting our history with brutal wars and such madness as slavery.

Surely this gift of liberty was of spiritual essence for men are seldom long bounded by their own morality; otherwise the joy of success would not be repeatedly tainted by greed and true freedom so rare upon this earth, given this great American experiment in democracy.

Though varying in their spiritual understanding, there was a sense of an Omnipotent Being guiding the wisdom of our Founders and encouraging their risk, even unto death.

This morning after a couple hours of moving from the local news, Facebook, scriptures and numerous cups of coffee, it seemed appropriate to open a new book for the rest of the morning. This would be my second book by Barbara Brown Taylor, entitled Learning to Walk In The Dark, I ventured no further than her first quote and first scripture passage before this compelling urge to write, to think out loud, gripped me once more.

“There is a tendency for us to flee from the wild silence and the wild dark, to pack up our gods and hunker down behind city walls, to turn the gods into idols, to kowtow before them and approach their precincts only in official robes of office. And when we are in the temples, then who will hear the voice crying in the wilderness? Who will hear the reed shaken by the wind?” – Chet Raymo, The Soul of the Night

Ironically, in my scripture readings I had just finished the prayer offered by Solomon in II Chronicles 6-7, upon the dedication of the temple so long desired by and prepared for by his father, David.

These days, I seem to have outgrown the simple stories that placate American Christians, perhaps anesthetizing them from otherwise available opportunities for intimate relationship with the Almighty. Yes, the very One that enabled this freedom we now celebrate most passionately on this day.

Surely, we have cause to celebrate and responsibility to be grateful, but I often wonder if we have chosen religion and nationalism over a relationship with this powerful Being who knows the number of our hairs, each of us by name and so desires to be known as “Friend.”

One of the articles read as well this a.m. was a pastor’s lament over the diminishing numbers of Gen-Xers leaving the institutional church. His bottom line was that 20-30 year olds don’t need hipper pastors, louder music or better lighting shows, but a powerful encounter with the God we profess.

BTW, that passage that compelled me to write:

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and the riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” Isaiah 45:3

If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to the treasure: Intimacy with God in a place called America!

So blessed & grateful!

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