Saturday, September 22, 2007

Liberty, Frederick Douglass, Breathing...

I appreciate deeply this poem by Robert Hayden on the inspiring Fredrick Douglass.

As I echo back lines of the poem and pose a couple questions, I recognize this as my prayer this morning.

"Needful to man as air"

This liberty. Beautiful and terrible.
What responsibilities come with oxygen, with breathing?
With choosing to stay alive?

Poem: "Frederick Douglass" by Robert E. Hayden from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden. © Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1966. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Frederick Douglass

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues' rhetoric
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.

Peace and Happy contemplative action to you,

1 comment:

Sr. Rafael said...

Dear Melissa,
-Thanks for posting this on your regular e-mail. I appreciate the inspirations. A thought about liberty that I received from John Duns Scotus. This is philosophy, but it makes spiritual sense to me.

The will, in the image of God, is free. It must, however, know what there is to choose: that is, intelligence must first show the will what it knows. The will is made to chose the good, but it is free to choose wrongly. It may even seem that the intellect presents to the will something that makes it necessary to choose, but that does not change the freedom of the will. Therefore, it is a good thing to know that even what seems to be necessary does not constrain the will to choose wrongly (or rightly). The will is free. It will, however, choose the good and learn even more freedom the more it chooses the good. Even in heaven the will continually hurls itself toward the good, and even if it may be necessary for the will to choose the good in heaven, even there, since the good is infinite, the will is still choosing the good freely, for to choose the good but not freely would be a lesser good than we have here on earth where we freely chose the good (since the will is created free, in the image of God. Therefore, in heaven the soul's joy and activity and heavenly fulfillment is constantly to choose the good.

Do you like that?
I do.

Sr. Rafael