Let’s Declare July 5th, Inter-dependence Day

“The human heart is a theater of longing.” ― John O’Donohue

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“I am the Vine, you are the branches…Make yourselves at home in this love. As you love, you will experience the depth of this love.” — Jesus

Here are a couple of thoughts I’m pondering as we approach this year’s celebration of our nation’s story of independence — July 4th, the year of our Lord — CoVid 2020. You should also check out Rev. Linda McDermott’s post this week for an insightful reflection on our national holiday. By the way, I predict that we will henceforth refer to time before 2020 and after 2020 as “Pre-CoVid” and “Post-CoVid.”

But I digress… here are my two thoughts.

First, I am pondering the word “freedom.” I did not know this, and I suspect there are a lot of us Democrats and Republicans, Socialists and Anarchists, out there (well, and all the rest of us in-between) who did not know this either. But dig back through the etymological history of the word “free,” and the root word “frei” literally means “beloved.”

In fact, the Proto-Indo-European root, “-pri”, means “to love.” Add the second half of the word, “-dom” (which is to say, “ruling, or judge”) — completing the word at the heart of our nation’s birth document (and at the heart of so many divisive arguments on all sides of the ‘infringing on my rights’ debates — from gun-toting to mask-wearing) — and we have the inescapable fact that the word “freedom” means (wait for it) — “to love, and count one another beloved.”

So, in essence, we’re all arguing with one another about our individual freedoms, but what we’re really saying is, “I love you.”


Second, I read recently that it requires the time and effort of approximately 10,000 people to get the cup of coffee I poured myself this morning. That’s just a cup of coffee — to get the coffee from the plant to my coffee pot. 10,000 people! And of course, I added some sugar and cream! And that doesn’t even scratch the inter-connected reality of everything else I do and take for granted on an average morning. Add to this confusing, but profound, reality — the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic and a conscious accounting for racism and the interplay of people and profit in our nation and, well, it’s revolutionary!

The Vietnamese monk and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, wisely wrote, “To be is to ‘inter-be’. You cannot just be yourself alone. You inter-be with every other thing.”

Or the way Jesus put it in the Gospel of John, “I am the vine, you are the branches. When you love others as God loves, you know the depth and joy of the love connecting us all.” Well, that’s my paraphrase of his words along with I John 4 (“God is love and if we say we love then we are of God”). But you get the point.

This Sunday, July 5th, in eleven:eleven, join Linda and me as we wrestle with some ideas about the myth of independence, the place and purpose of freedom, and the possibility that we are on the verge of a spiritual revolution! Brad, the band, Charme, and a guest or two, will be with us as we declare July 5 our “Inter-dependence Day.”

Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven


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