July 5th and we’ve logged another Independence Day celebration in the books. Over the years, as our history of independence has been recounted, I’ve considered my good fortune to live in a land that has afforded me freedom.
This year, as the message from the pulpit began by acknowledging our national freedom, my heart traveled to its usual destination: gratefulness. Yet, unlike other years, my heart didn’t stop there. It kept right on going to consider something – someone – else.
My new friend.
I don’t know a lot about her personal history. Not yet. But I know enough about our respective cultural histories to wonder how her heart processed what our ears had just heard. What produced an overall sense of gratitude in my heart may have evoked something else — entirely — in hers.
Or maybe not.
I didn’t know.
But I wondered how it would feel to sit in a roomful of people who celebrated an event that evoked – in me — a sense of deep sorrow. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be grateful for my present freedom. Humans are perfectly capable of experiencing a range of emotions simultaneously.
Like attending a baby shower after you’ve miscarried your child or a wedding after you’ve buried your spouse –
you carry your loss to the celebration – crying both happy and sad tears — rejoicing with those who rejoice while weeping quietly in your heart.
And you’re thankful for the person at the celebration who remembers your loss and takes a moment to weep with you. Because your loss was and is real.
Because your loss matters.
Because you matter.