He brought me out to a place of freedom;
he saved me because he delighted in me.
This, the entrance antiphon at Mass two Sundays ago, really struck me with its apparent juxtaposition of protection and freedom. Protection is about safety and sanctuary, being hidden, tightly held or insulated from danger. Taken to extremes, it can mean confinement and a lack of freedom: we speak of over-protective parents whose anxieties suffocate their children, and of those criminals who are "locked up for their own protection".
Freedom, though, is about risk: the risk of encountering danger or making unwise choices, or simply that the one being set free will never come back. It implies exposure to new possibilities and opportunities. You cannot bring someone to a place of freedom and still be a place of refuge; you cannot be a hiding place and enable exposure. So how, then, can a protector also be a liberator?
|Photo by Dave Murray, reproduced with permission|
In this one moment, freedom and protection come together.
And so it is with God... He gives me the freedom to fly, and takes the risk that I will flap around, make mistakes, fall into danger... And that is when he swoops in protectively, still allowing me to fly, because I must learn to do that, but keeping me from further danger. And he does this because, as the antiphon says, he delights in me.
I went on to Youtube to see if I could find a video of eaglets learning how to fly. What I found was this...