The freedom to be is a curious undertaking for a people in isolation. In our staff devotion, Walter led us through a reminder that we are interdependent on one another. We considered an essay by CS Lewis, in which the famed Christian thinker offered the idea what when we gain more in community with others. Rather than being able to have more of someone if we keep them to ourselves, we gain more of them by hearing how they laugh at the joke of another, or enjoy the presence of another friend. The idea is that we are more fully ourselves in community than we ever could be apart. And thus our present dilemma as a church and as people.
As I have been isolated from the people at Highland, I have tried to consider the freedom to be as a message of liberation for each of you. In particular, I want us most to have the freedom to be where we are during this time, without the shame that accompanies cultural pressures: to be productive, to parent like a person famous for good parenting at all times, to find worth in material wealth, and more.
I do not minimize those of us who live in a precarious financial place, even more do I not minimize those who were far beyond precariousness before the pandemic. At the same time, I implore you and myself to remember that your value does not come from your ability to work harder and produce more, even as it might be demanded of you. Your value does not come from your ability to parent perfectly, as if that was even a far off possibility. Your worth does not come from financial security or pursuit of it. Your value comes from God, because you are loved.
Returning to the beginning, I believe the most eminent reminders of God’s love for us are found in loving relationship with one another. In these uncertain times, we have had the physical proximity on which so much of our community is built taken from us. All the more reason to value one another, but also to be creative in seeking the presence of others. I hate Zoom, and Facebook Live, and becoming an internet person. But I need each of you more than I need my comfort. And in truth, there is no greater discomfort for me than being alone. Remember that you are not alone. Remember it is right and good to be precisely where you are—making progress in our spiritual and ethical lives is a daily task along life’s journey at which point none of us are perfect. It is even ok to have Bad Days, I promise. So feel the freedom to be this week, in the progressive yet traditioned, weird and liberal, deeply Christian, resurrection promised, grounded and earthy, hopeful way that I find God to be present at Highland (as I suspect you might sometimes, too).