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Issue 110 - On Freedom - July 2014

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Reflections on Freedom
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom."  
    --Viktor Frankl 
"Inside the Great Mystery that is, we don't really own anything. What is this competition we feel then, before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?"
--Mevlana Rumi 


"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

--Galatians 5:1  


Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake



101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

109-Not Nice 

Link to all past issues 


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An Instant of Freedom
          Emily is a teenage girl who goes into a mall bathroom stall, pulls down her pants, and begins to carve a 1 and a 7 on her thighs. That is the way she celebrates her 17th birthday. Emily, an orphan who survived a nuclear disaster in rural Vermont is a fictional character created by best-selling author Chris Bohjalian in his latest novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. It is believed that "cutting" and "slashing" and like forms of self-mutilation are often practiced for, as in Emily's case, "a psychological release as though somehow harming herself allowed her a moment, an instant of freedom."

          In Emily's story created though the word artistry of Bohjalian, it is clear to see how Emily's paths led her into destructive ways, being trapped by one and then yet another boulder on her road to growing up. Surely most of our stories are not that drastic. But some are.

          As Spiritual Director, I sometimes meet with people who are blocked, who feel trapped, who find themselves at an impasse. It's as if their souls are writhing in pain, desperate to be freed. Many Directees come, seeking an instant of freedom. Once prevailing needs, attachments, and addictions are identified, growth toward freedom can begin by ascending the steps out of boundedness. We can look to the lives of many of the contemporary saints who were in a similar situation and who, through disciplined commitment of prayer and dedication to a spiritual path, have transformed their anxiety and angst into peace and joy. As Saint Isaac of Nineveh wrote,  "Dive into yourself and in your soul you will discover the stairs by which to ascend."

                                                     --by Jan


Sanctuary or Cage?


I was in a pet store last week. Strolling past the reptile section, I saw a terrarium labeled "Reptile Sanctuary," which turned out to be the brand name. "Sanctuary?" I thought; "What that really is is a cage."

Sure, a lizard might well find that terrarium to be a sanctuary if there is a cat in the house. But you can't get around the fact that the terrarium is still a cage. Once in the "sanctuary," the reptile is confined.  

How true! We humans turn to many things for sanctuary: to our homes, to our families, to our jobs, and to our churches. Each and every one of those can provide sanctuary - safe protection from enemies and threats, real or imagined.

But like that terrarium, each can also be a cage, trapping us within walls, preventing us from exploring new territory, from meeting new challenges, or from encountering new ways of thinking. Sometimes we build the cages ourselves, and never even see the glass that confines us.

The strongest prisons are the ones we build for ourselves.

                                                             --by Bill


From The Caged Bird Sings

The caged bird sings / with a fearful trill /of things unknown / but longed for still /and his tune is heard /on the distant hill /for the caged bird /sings of freedom. 
--Maya Angelou 


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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries