70 times 7, every day, until it hurts

70 times 7, every day, until it hurts
                        

Freedom lies in the shape of my backyard at dawn; familiar outlines lay dormant in the stillness of a middle America morning. Each tree and flower whose shadows spill across the dewy grass and slowly pull in and disappear are dear to my eyes as I purvey them. My house is still as I brew the strongest of concoctions to push my day into gear, and the first sip burns my tongue with pleasure.

I’m meticulously aware of the amenities of my life: I have a home, a car, food in my refrigerator and a bed to sleep in at night. I have plates and forks, a soft chair to sit in on my porch, running water that flushes my toilet, and a cat. I have more than some and less than most, yet I’m content with what our hard work has provided us.

We take freedom for granted in our lush country. We wake up every day knowing the Starbucks will have our latte ready and steaming, should we decide to order one. We feel confident in knowing the road we drive on to get where we need to go will be paved and smooth, with limited potholes. I can sit down at my kitchen table every single day, making a living by stacking words together in coherent sentences, and know no one will stop me. They may disagree with me, but that is their right to do. I know, too, that I have the right to answer them or not, their dissent not requiring a reply from me.

That is my freedom. And yours as well.

Just like everyone else in our nation, what I pay into it is what I’ll get out of it. My taxes go to roads I will never drive on, to bridges I’ll never cross and to schools my children no longer attend. This is what makes a country great — investing in things so we all have a place to call home. If the opportunity arises for me to pay one dollar more so someone less fortunate can live better, I’ll pay it double-fold. We fight for some issues, then turn a blind eye to the flipside of the consequences.

We live in a wide-open country with room to expand and accept differences. We must rid ourselves quickly of the “if I can’t have it, they can’t have it” notion, holding our possessions and love for others tightly — doling it out sparingly. I’ve seen firsthand the bitterness voiced when “you” have something but “I” don’t. Isn’t spreading love while sharing what we have what is commanded of us? I remember learning Bible verses at a tiny age, where the words “love” and “share” and “forgive” were tattooed into my brain.

We’re to give 70 times seven, no matter who it is.

Many nights I sit on my porch and look upon a major artery that slices through Holmes County, the many cars that fly by a rhythm I’ve come to know in the years we’ve lived in our little house. I feel freedom in my home, the kind that allows for a glass of wine in my hand and a book to cock my head at and read, a twilight that settles over me as I watch the sun set in the direction of Millersburg, pink and orange streaks painting the sky with wonder. Not everyone has this freedom, and I know I’m not able to give it to them.

Seventy times seven. Every single day.

We’ve lost bits and pieces of our freedom as we’ve misplaced some of our humanity to careless rips in the seams of people who need us, people who annoy us with their need and our turning of a head to pretend it doesn’t exist. My coffee may be pleasurably hot and fragrant on my lips, but my freedom is marred by the lack of compassion that’s been brewing. In it, a storm is on the horizon unless we take shelter — a shelter built for all.


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