What Shall We Celebrate?

Lady Liberty, Symbol of Strength, Peace, and Freedom. Courtesy Pexels.

As most of us prepare for the Fourth of July, with its fireworks, barbecues and picnics, vacations, and joyful gatherings with friends and loved ones, perhaps we should take a few moments to set forth some prayers for those who have not yet fully gained or even partially gained their freedom throughout the world.

Frederick Douglass had it right when he delivered a famous speech on July 5, 1852, in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. The speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In the speech, he brought out the contradictions to a celebration of liberty, citizenship, and freedom as an offense to the black slaves, who had none of those things. The Fourth of July was supposed to be directed to ALL citizens of the United States.

Frederick Douglass, courtesy Wikipedia.

The times have changed, but the inequality has grown out of proportion. Today, as we prepare for the Fourth of July, let us offer a prayer for those living under modern slavery, which encompasses more than some nearly 30,000,000,000 enslaved people (as of 2013) – adults, children and babies alike – no longer black slaves alone, but all colors, races, political, religious or spiritual or other beliefs – in every manner of slavery imaginable. The highest number of enslaved people is in Asia, but the United States has a huge number as well. No matter where these human beings are located or how many of them there are, we cannot blindly celebrate without remembering those who are not as fortunate as we are.

“Oh Lord, thank you for this freedom that you have bestowed upon me and those I love. I know how precious it is when I see how many people in this world are suffering every day because they have no hope. I have difficulty understanding this inequality, and I honestly don’t know what I can do to help except to offer this small and perhaps inadequate prayer. But what my soul cries out is WHY? Why must innocent people suffer in this manner when you have provided enough for all of us? I have no answers, Lord. I want to believe that there is some power in this world that is good and that can nourish and care for people who have done nothing to deserve what they are suffering. Thank you.”

Advertisements

The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl by Anne Copeland

I loved for my Grandmother to read to me, even when I was a teenager.  I remember sitting next to her rocking chair and kneading her soft skin and telling her lovingly that it felt so good, like a turkey.  For some, that may have been a dreadful thing to tell a Grandmother, but mine understood that it was soothing for me.  She would always sit and tell me over and over the fairy tales I always requested.  Strangely, both of these stories seemed so dismal on the surface, but I always interpreted them differently. 

This is my conscious interpretation of the story.  It is true that it was likely in Victorian times in England.  It was Christmas eve, and it was very cold as citizens found their way around the area seeking last-minute gifts and special foods to celebrate.

The little match girl, a poor child who would represent reality in those times for a lot of children, was out in the street, poorly dressed for the cold.  She held up her matches, for she knew she dare not return home without selling them.  Her family did not have the good foods that others had to eat.  She perhaps had not eaten all day or even several days.  No one noticed the matches she held up in the cold.

Desperate to do something in this dismal time, she lit one of the matches.  As the long match glowed in the dark, it warmed her a tiny bit, and in that moment, she saw a vision of possibility.  She saw herself in a warm home with food and presents, and a beautiful Christmas tree lit with many colors.  The other children with her were all aglow with happiness that permeated the cold, dark sky.

The match did not last. With a sort of strange bit of hope, she lit another match.  Once again, her heart was filled with joy and happiness, if just for that moment. You know, it only takes a moment for a miracle.  If we can experience the joy of being alive in our minds and our souls, just for that moment, we experience the true miracle of life.

As the matches continued to be lit, finally culminating in the lighting of the remainder of the matches all at once, she was able to transcend that reality of her life.

We are sometimes faced with ugly realities in our lives, and we don’t  have to accept them as our forever reality.  We can see the best even in the worst of times, and know that life will change as it always does.  We are all sacred in this world, as is every plant, every animal, every grain of sand.  We are not alone.  We are part of the larger universe, and we would not be here if we were not meant to be.  If we are here but a moment, we can make it the most beautiful miracle of a moment ever.