“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
― Toni Morrison
One of my favorite Saints is St Clare of Assisi. Her morning gratitude was said to be, “My Lord, I thank you for having created me.” A few years ago, when I discovered that her feast day was my birthday, I adopted her as my patron saint and have taken her mantra as my own this year. The freedom this small sentence has given my life is uncommunicable. I have never felt so free in my own skin to be fully myself. And with that freedom, I have felt grace for my mistakes and shortcomings and a delight for my strengths and gifts.
Moving through life with this freedom for myself has given me the freedom to love others just as they are. It isn’t something I tried to conjure up; it just seemed to evolve naturally. I appreciate those around me not for what they were once or what they could be, but who they are right now in this moment.
This new freedom has given me the audacity to be brave and fearless. I feel like one of Mary Oliver’s starlings- flying together with the people in my life, while also being my true and separate self. I am noticing I delight in my family and loved ones, not wanting to change or influence those who are my journey partners, trusting they are also freely being their true selves.
Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
What would it look like to thank the Divine for yourself each day? Where do you crave the freedom to be your true self? How would falling more in love with yourself change how you love others? Wherever you find yourself on your journey, may you continue to find freedom within and may that freedom lead to love and celebration of self.