Freedom

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Ok, so this is probably the most overused image for freedom out there, but what is a woman to do when Freedom is the word given on a day the snow geese return!  Thousands of snow geese in flight overhead (30,000 according to the park manager’s posted estimate) and me below, delighting in their raucous arrival.

I’d spotted them in the open sky while driving home from the DMV on this rain drenched, icy cold afternoon, and, though I was not dressed for the 30 degree walk out to Willow Point from the parking area, my car turned to follow them as if drawn by its own homing device. So there I stood, alone, in the lee of a lone tree for the slight protection it offered, in the fog-laden, fading light of day as multitudes of geese arrived to alight upon the small patch of open water. It is a cacophonous affair, as the birds settle in for the evening, greeting one another as flock after flock descends to join the rowdy congregation on the water. Periodically the utterly magical occurs when the entire throng lifts at once, their wingbeats creating a sound like a thundering waterfall, and their synchronized squall becomes an aerial ballet thick with dancers. Standing on the earth below them in that moment is to be struck speechless beneath swirling waves of pure joy.

In that moment, perhaps, I am free… free of my thoughts of yesterday (or of one hour ago), free of worry and pain, free of concern for the future. I am just there, fully there, alive and aware and awake. Though, I expect freedom means more than mere escape.

A few summers ago, I crafted a wind-catching mobile constructed of found items, sticks and feathers and rocks, that hangs from the eaves of our porch,  Rocks and feathers may seem an unlikely pairing, but the marriage feels somehow right to me. I like the way the rocks keep the feathers from floating adrift and the way that the feathers lend movement to the rocks. The two dance with each other quite gracefully.

Last week, I came across this quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s, Wrinkle in Time. “Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet. You are given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself’ .  Freedom, untethered to the hard stuff of life, has no structure and no substance. I expect this is the balance that soothes me in the forms of that mobile. It is a visible reminder that the freedom I have is not so much ‘what’ but ‘how’…. how will I move WITH this? with grace.

Standing amidst the swirl of the geese, for me, is a similar knowing. My feet are grounded firmly on the earth even as my heart takes flight. It is possible to do both, to be in both places at once, and I expect that is where my true freedom awaits. For while it may be easy to wax romantic about the freedom of flight, the thing that draws me, I think, is that these are creatures of both worlds… the earth and the sky. And listening to their riotous clamour as they descend and greet one another, one can’t help but imagine that there is also joy for them in coming down to earth.

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M.C. Reardon

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