A friend and I went fishing today on the Hammond River, New Brunswick, Canada. Lisa got me a beautiful fly rod for Father's Day and I finally got to use it. A beautiful piece! Except for a couple of times, we went our separate ways. It was a gorgeous day alone on the river. I always find these times very peaceful and meditative. I caught a couple small ones, like the little speckled trout pictured here in my hand. I released them.
What I was thinking about was the importance, no, the necessity, of thinking with courage. Each one of us must follow our own path. This is absolutely necessary. Especially when it comes to religion, we must allow ourselves to go deeper into what we are thinking and believing, and why. I would always encourage people to explore to the furthest frontier when it comes to their faith, religion, spirituality, philosophy. We must set the axe to the root. Here we must exercise a fierce independence.
How this plays out is a different matter. I found that I could continue my exploration for many many years in the church. However, it came to a point where I was obviously making some people very uncomfortable. Those in authority over me as well as some of those under my care could no longer tolerate the distance I'd gone. I would've remained longer, but it was no longer possible. I suspected it was no longer possible for my leaders, and it seemed no longer possible for those I cared for. So I removed myself. They are happier and better for it. So am I. And you know what? Life goes on. I am well.
Your internal independence will manifest itself in your external independence. If you've never read Life and Death in Shanghai
by Nien Cheng, you must. One of the reviewers said it best:
A gripping, poignant chronicle of her courage, fortitude, and, above all, stubborn integrity during more than six years of cold, hunger, disease, terror, and humiliation.
We may find ourselves in different kinds of prisons. Perhaps not physical like Cheng's, but intellectual, spiritual, emotional, etc. But whatever your prison is, if you cannot escape it, you can still, and you must, find your courage, fortitude and stubborn integrity within it.
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