“True wisdom comes in understanding that sometimes, you are both the prison and the key.”
― Johnathan Jena
Sometimes the key is right in our hand.
Let’s be clear: Liberation is about struggling against “others.” There are forces, structures and people that put bars around us. Liberation is indeed about “opposing the powerful,” “dismantling systems,” and “fighting them for freedom.” But sometimes the bars are of our own making. Sometimes the limits and boxes are self-imposed. Sometimes, we are indeed both the prison and the key.
So this month, let’s make sure to look in all directions. Let’s look honestly and hopefully at the many ways that liberation requires a clear-eyed re-assessment of our choices, not just a battle against those bad guys. All of the great religions agree: We are more powerful than we realize, or want to admit. We can forgive and free ourselves from the cage of resentment. We can let go of jealousy. We can stop playing the self-defeating games of status, money and beauty. We don’t have to keep telling ourselves that life is unfair and we’ve been cheated. We can let that chip fall from our shoulder and freely move on.
Christian author, Israelmore Ayivor, writes, “You have the right to suppress yourself, oppress yourself and depress yourself. You also have the right to impress yourself. And let yourself feel happy too!” There is something perfectly balanced about that quote. It’s both critical and kind. Confrontational and inspirational. It honors the fact that there are bars that hem us in, but it also invites us to notice when the key is setting right there in the lock.
May this be the month when we notice and turn that key.
1. Let Your Precious Go. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Lord of the Rings, we watch a creature named Gollum give his life and soul over to his “precious.” That which empowered him, ended up destroying him. That which was meant to fee and protect him, depleted and betrayed him. It’s meant to symbolize the destructive lure of addiction and power. It’s an extreme example. But this trap is also commonplace. All of us do things that we think will make us feel better but end up making us feel worse. We all have our “precious” that ends up betraying us.
This exercise simply asks you to use this month to work on facing your “precious” and make some small step in letting it go. There are no complicated instructions than this: Liberate yourself from your “precious.”
Click here for some inspiration and guidance.
2. DANCEBREAK! Oh yeah! You know you need this one. If music and dance have saved you before, they can save and free you again. This exercise asks you to let music and/or dance interrupt your weekly routine. The instructions are easy: Sign up for DANCEBREAK! here.
DANCEBREAK was created by Rev. Scott Rudolph, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Pittsburgh. The vision is explained here: http://dancebreak.weebly.com/about-dancebreak.html. Rumors have it that the real origin was to help ministers escape the pressure and fear of sermon writing right when they need it most. But don’t we all need a bit of music and dance to help us step back from the stress? Don’t we all need a bit of rhythm and joy to free us from our worries? Who of us doesn’t need a mid-week dancebreak?!
By signing up, you will receive a weekly email that has a song/video to dance along with. If you want a dancebreak more than once-a-week, then set an alarm on your calendar and visit the DANCEBREAK archives: http://dancebreak.weebly.com.
And if you’re up to it, help liberate other Soul Matters members by posting DANCEBREAK worthy songs on the Soul Matters Facebook page throughout the month of March. When you post it, tell your Soul Matters family why you picked the song and what it liberated you from.
As always, don’t treat these questions like “homework” or a list that needs to be covered in its entirety. Instead, simply pick the one question that “hooks” you most and let it lead you where you need to go. The goal of these questions is not to help you analyze what liberation means, but to figure out what being a person of liberation means for you today. So, which question is calling to you?
Click here for more quotes related to the theme of "liberation," selected by church members from church library resources.
Check UUCW's Facebook page for further articles, videos, music, poetry, and more, related to February's theme of "Desire."