New Mother's Moon
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The new moon this month is the Mother's Moon, the moon full of the unconditional, formless, limitless love of the mother goddess. This year's new Mothers Moon happens to fall right around the Fourth of July, a holiday that last year I called the epitome of the Father's Moon energies. I still think that American Independence Day is, at its core, more aligned with the Father's Moon than the Mother's Moon but it is interesting to think about how it embodies the moon it falls in this year.
Freedom is an elusive concept. The dictionary defines it as being exempt from confinement, external control or regulation or the power to determine action without constraint. Many people don't really understand what freedom means because we middle class, 21st century Americans enjoy a level of economic, political, religious and personal freedom that is virtually unprecedented in human history. I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy, a young adult science fiction set in a world where people have very little freedom of choice or even thought. The books are so well written that I really had an emotional experience living into that constrictive, harsh world. I actually had moments, walking in the woods or driving down the road, wondering if I was in my world or Katniss' world and fearing that the gamemakers or people from The Capitol were controlling my experience or watching me. Realizing that I was not, in fact, in that world allowed me to literally breathe free. My experience is nothing compared to those of people who have been incarcerated, held captive or otherwise stripped of their freedom but it was enough to make me think about how blessed I really am.
Freedom's conjoined twin is responsibility. Some kinds of freedom - school boys in June, a factory worker at the end of day whistle, a dog in the woods - are the result of a lack of responsibility. Other freedoms, like those of citizens in a democracy, members of a Quaker meeting or adults who pay their own rent, come with a very hefty dose of responsibility. I find it interesting to think that the freedoms from responsibility can only be fleeting. Eventually those school boys need to eat and someone needs to have worked to get the food on the table. Freedoms with responsibility, though, can be very long lasting because the person enjoying the freedom is the person doing the work to maintain it.
I spent some time this week with my friend and her 4 month old twin sons. The babies enjoy existence in a blissful state of freedom from responsibility. Sure, they are working hard to grow and make sense of this crazy world they just got born into, but they don't have to do any work to provide for their own needs. Their mama does all of that. And though my friend loves her new life, she is also acutely feeling the lack of her previous freedoms. Hopefully, the work she is doing now and the freedoms she has given up in this season of her life will lay a foundation of love and trust in her sons so they can move out into the world in a healthy way as they grow. With care and luck, they will have the emotional home base to return to so they can explore the freedoms that come with responsibilities in the coming decades.
Sometimes I wonder about the mothers of America's Founding Fathers. They must have been amazing women. Not only did they raise sons to adulthood in a time when that was a feat accomplished against all odds, and not only did they do it with none of the modern conveniences we think are necessary, they did it so well as to raise men who were willing to make giant leaps into the unknown. Men who were so confident that they were loved that they were willing to take the enormous risk of breaking with all the cultural, political and philosophical traditions they knew. And even if the Founding Fathers' actual mothers didn't succeed in providing that foundation for their sons, someone did. Motherlove, the unconditional love that values you just for being you, is something we have turned to god for all over the world and in many traditions.
This is a big topic, and I can't quite find a way to wrap it all up with a bow. I'd rather end with some more quotes and questions....
Janis Joplin says freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose....
Stan Lee says with great power comes great responsibility....
The second Sabian Symbol I drew for this year, Building a Better Teacher 2011, was A Deserter from the Navy Stands Suddenly Aware of a Dawning Truth: Freedom is Never the Result of Compromise.
What does it all mean? How does one secure freedoms and enjoy responsibilities? How do we nurture the secure foundations of freedom in ourselves and others? What compromises do I need to be careful about? When do you feel most free, most secure, most loved? What does Fourth of July mean to you?
The photos all came up when I searched "freedom" on Flickr. Thanks izarbeltza, _ambrown, The U.S. Army and Nicolo Paternosters. Click on the photos or their names to see more of their work.
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