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Freedom

To be truly free, one must find the courage to seek only his daily bread, to suck the marrow out of each new day, banishing the fleshly fears that compel him to store and save and hope for a better tomorrow. There is no better tomorrow. The spirits within us know this, and when they rise up, they give us the courage to live without so much worry about the future.

There is a poem that I’ve always loved, that to me epitomizes the reckless freedom that flows from hearts that are fully in love. The poem is titled Recuerdo, which means Remembrance in the Spanish.

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night upon the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on the hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and the pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

To me, this poem is the essence of the glory of love. I encourage you to read it multiple times to gain the full meaning. To me, the glory of love is freedom to live to the full extent of the moment. The lover’s love is bursting, always looking to shower kindness, not only on the beloved, but on all within reach. Their expressions of love were lavish, buying a dozen apples and pears just to eat one. And most notably, their love brought freedom from worry and fear. They gave away all their money and all their food, and kept just what little they needed to continue their journey – in essence, their daily bread. The joy of their beloved’s presence was their only focus. Nothing else mattered. And this joy energized them into spontaneous action, action bursting with the goodness of love.

Henry David Thoreau wrote about an experience he had one evening, a battle between fleshly fear and the restless spirit within. He was visiting a friend during a rainstorm, and as he headed for his home on Walden pond, he was suddenly struck by the notion that he was wasting his life while his fellow man was thriving and building their futures. But then the spirit rose up within him and spoke:

As I was leaving the Irishman’s roof after the rain, bending my steps again to the pond, my haste to catch pickerel in forlorn and savage places appeared for an instant trivial to me who had been sent to school and college; but as I ran down the hill toward the reddening west, with the rainbow over my shoulder, and some faint tinkling sounds borne to my ear through the cleansed air, from I know not what quarter, my Good Genius seemed to say – Go fish and hunt far and wide day by day – farther and wider – and rest thee by many brooks and hearth-sides without misgiving. Remember thy Creator in the days of they youth. Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home.

That’s such a beautiful description of peace: Let the night overtake thee everywhere at home. The ancient poet also describes the difference between living in the flesh and living in the spirit. But he uses the terms intellectual and lover:

The intellectual is always showing off,
The lover is always getting lost.
The intellectual runs away
Afraid of drowning;
The whole business of love
Is to drown in the sea.
Intellectuals plan their repose;
Lovers are ashamed to rest.
The lover is always alone.
Even surrounded by people;
Like water and oil, he remains apart.
The man who goes to the trouble
Of giving advice to a lover
Gets nothing. He’s mocked by passion.
Love is like musk. It attracts attention.
Love is a tree, and the lovers are its shade.

What I find very interesting, is that if you took the life of Jesus and boiled it down to a poem, it would sound very similar to the poem at the beginning of this essay. He was always very tired, He was always very merry. He was always going back and forth throughout the land, doing good to all He encountered. His love showered forth in lavish ways, like gallons of wine made for a wedding feast for guests who had already had their fill. He never had more than His daily bread, and what He had, He was always seeking to render to whomever would take it. They that encountered Him were changed, and wept for the goodness He offered freely into their lives.

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