This theme of fire continues to find and follow me. The candle beckons me first thing in the morning to light its flame. It dances in the peripheral of my vision and reminds me that We are One – dance – flame – God.
A little journaling and then a “random” opening of “Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours” reveals this:
"The fire of love for souls loved by God consumes like the fire of God’s love, and it is the same love. It burns you up with a hunger for the supernatural happiness first of the people that you know, then of people you have barely heard of, and finally of everybody."
It is easy to love the lovable, but what of the not so lovable? My heart is big even though it grew up in a home of judgment and criticism. My mind turns to Linda on the playground. We are seven years old. I feel her hand in mine. It has a slightly different feel - a little drier – a little coarser, but still it is a small hand like mine. Fingers entwined as we skip across the playground, joyously together.
During that moment, I did not know this was considered an outrage to many. It was 1963 in Bethany, Oklahoma. Linda was black and I was white. I did not know that during this same time period, perhaps even the same week, four African American girls just about our age had been killed in a bombing in Alabama while attending church. I did not know it could be considered dangerous to be friends with this girl who was just like me. I did not know that some considered her unlovable.
I have no idea how long we were friends. It might have been only that one day. She disappeared from our school as quietly as she had arrived. Still 35 years later, she lingers in my mind.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You cannot skip and be angry at the same time?” Try it sometime. Two images of freedom come to me most strongly when I think of my childhood. One is skipping by myself on my way to Kindergarten - scuffing my perfect little shoes along the way. The other is skipping hand in hand with Linda on the playground of our elementary school.
So why does this come to my mind now? I believe Linda has reappeared to me today as that symbol of freedom both for myself and for our country, even our world. We are in an historic time right now. Can you feel it? May the fire of freedom burn brightly!!!
Bless you, Linda, wherever you may be.
Consider this: Who are the "Linda's" of your life? What does "fire of freedom" say to you?