Friday, October 9, 2015

The Path to Freedom

"Being human is difficult. Becoming a human is a life long process. To be truly human is a gift." Abraham Heschel

The following is a passage from Jean Vanier's book, "Becoming Human". This section is taken from the chapter, "The Path to Freedom".
To be free is to know who we are, with all that is beautiful, all the brokenness in us; it is to love our own values, to embrace them, and to develop them; it is to be anchored in a vision and a truth but also to be open to others and, so, to change. Freedom lies in discovering that the truth is not a set of fixed certitudes but a mystery we enter into, one step at a time. It is a process of going deeper and deeper into an unfathomable reality.

In this journey of integrating our experience and our values, and of what we might learn we listen to others, there may be a period of anguish. We need to find links between the old and the new, links that will permit the integration of new, consciousness-expanding truths into what we already know and are living-our existing certitudes. As human sciences develop and the world evolves, we are called to grow into a new and deeper understanding of the source of the universe and of life. As we participate in this, our sense of the true expands. Freedom is to be in awe of this source, of the beauty and diversity of people, and of the universe. It is to contemplate the height and breadth of all that is true.

Freedom is to accept that when we belong to a group, a race, a tribe, a family, a community, a religion, that none of these are perfect, that each has its limits and weaknesses. Every community of humans has its light and its darkness. We are all part of something greater than ourselves. We all flow from a source that is unfathomable and we are all journeying towards it, carrying with us the light of truth and love. Each of us is called to be in communion with the source and heart of the universe. The infinite yearnings of our hearts are calling us to be in communion with the infinite. None of us can be satisfied with the limited and finite. Each cone must be free to follow the Spirit of God.

And this freedom is for love and compassion, to give our lives more totally and more freely to others. It is the freedom to be kind and patient. This freedom does not seek personal honours; it believes all, hopes all, bears all, and endures all. Freedom does not judge or condemn but understands and forgives. Freedom is the liberation from all those inner fears and inhibitions and that we need to ask forgiveness of those we have hurt.

There is a freedom that I sense exists but that I do not have. I cannot always describe it but I do want it. I sense I still have a long road to walk in order to reach this freedom. I see the goal but I am not yet there. I love and want it but sometimes I am frightened on the road I must take.

I am frightened of the disappearance of my walls of defense, sensing that behind them there is an anguish and a vulnerability that will rise up. I see that I still cling to what people think of me and am fed by the way people love, want, and admire me. If all that fell away, who would I be? But that is where freedom lies, the freedom to be rejected, if that is the path I am to take in order to live more fully. Is that not the freedom that Jesus announces in his charter of the Beatitudes, when he says, “Woe to you when people speak well of you”?

Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, The Path to Freedom, Pages 117-119.