The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969, American Heritage Publishing Co., INC. and Houghton Mifflin Company

While looking up the meaning of independence in an old dictionary, it seemed so simply put. The 4th of July that I have known all my life has consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and dip and the occasional beach trip. Its a time of hot, sweaty afternoons, sunburns, the smell of suntan lotion and bug spray. It’s the smell of charcoal on the grill. It contains the sounds of fireworks through the night that wake you up because your neighbors can’t wait to blow up something that lasts a few seconds and cost them $30 or more. It’s the sound of children playing outside with screams and laughter and eventually, someone will start crying. Hopefully it’s not the parent. 😉 This is 4th of July for most Americans.

I went back to the National Archives to read about the Declaration of Independence and it made me ponder the reality of the dangerous times these people were living in. It also made me ponder the ways in which America was founded. In some ways, with social distancing and grave errors of humanity being brought to the forefront of our thoughts and attention, we are being made great. Not again, but, maybe, made better than what we were before. That is my hope and prayer this Independence Day.

Freedom is the word that is focused upon today and well, yes. Freedom is a complicated thing. Living in a world of needing technology in order to get through the day is not necessarily freedom. Living in a world of “toiling the soil” to survive is not necessarily freedom. So, I don’t focus on physical freedom because my soul has freedom and my mind has freedom even though my flesh and its environment may not necessarily be truly free. My heart is free to love and that is the freedom that surpasses understanding. It is that love that I have to continually work towards daily. I am still on a path and will be till the day I die so, I have not reached ultimate freedom. I have much work to do. I have much work ahead of me. I think we all do.

Independence in this world is a sense of freedom. Independence is following the beat of one’s own drum and being permitted the freedom to do so. In America’s Declaration of Independence, we were made a great land of high risk for failure but, also, high opportunity to be whatever we wanted to be. With that, this country was worth fighting for. A land of controversy and a land of hope.

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them.

2 Peter 2:19 NRSV

I am thankful to have been born in this land of freedom. I look forward to the smell of burgers on the grill this 4th of July. Thankful to those who made the initial declaration of a land where there is opportunity for independence and freedom. I will take time to reflect on ALL the lives, known and unknown, who took up the challenge, made the sacrifices and made America an independent nation.

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