I am not exactly what anyone would call patriotic. I’m grateful for the privileges I have as an American, and much of American culture – especially the folksy parts – I adore. But the flag-waving, America above all stuff . . . yeah, that’s just not for me. (When you come to visit, we can chat about patriotism if you want.)
In fact, the only really American-ish thing I own is this adorable hand towel that my mother-in-law gave me. (That woman has this amazing set of decorations for all the major – and many minor – holidays, and now, she’s setting me up with dish towels for every season. It’s pretty cool.)
But while I am not a huge patriot, there is one thing about Independence Day that I really love – the idea of freedom – people fighting hard for the opportunity to live life fully and broadly. For me, that’s what this farm represents – our desire to work for the life we want to live, a life that respects that other people may want to live another way and strives to make those choices possible for us all.
For me, that’s freedom.
So many times, we live our lives carrying the burdens of other people’s expectations – the job we’ll have, the car we’ll drive, the clothes we’ll wear, the music we’ll like. Sometimes other people hand us those burdens; sometimes, we pick them up of our own accord and then convince ourselves we had no choice.
At some point in my college years, someone – goodness do I wish I know who – told me that wise people do what they want and do their best to not make choices that close doors. I’ve tried to live my life that way – keeping every door of possibility open if I can. Sometimes, those doors shut because we want them to; sometimes, they close because we make good choices – like marrying a kind, incredible man; sometimes, they creep shut when we aren’t looking. But often, we can keep kicking those doors open, if we try. But we have to try.
From where I sit on this spectacular 4th of July morning, the view through the wide open doors is pretty awesome. I could not – 10 years ago – have pictured how perfect this life would be, but I made every choice I could to keep this hope alive. Now, I live in it.
Last night, I dreamed that I decided to move away from the farm, get an apartment, and leave all the animals here behind. I woke up sobbing. That’s how I know that I’ve got a good thing – when the wave of relief washes over me as I wake up to my life.
So here, we celebrate freedom – maybe not in the way of many Americans, but in the spirit of freedom that we carry so high in this nation. We celebrate the freedom to choose the lives we want, the people we love, the faiths we practice. We celebrate making wacko choices just to see how they will turn out. We celebrate risks, and the right to grieve for as long and in whatever way we need. We celebrate hope, and joy, and the simple pleasure of a big white tail wagging to greet you.
Happy Independence Day, All.
If you’d like to know more about the 10 guiding principles of this farm, we hope you’ll get a copy of God’s Whisper Manifesto, and let us know what you think of our vision.