Monday, July 5, 2010

Lessons in Liberation.

Sitting atop Mt. Washington yesterday, I shared an incredible view with friends and fellow staff members, one that overlooked the entire city of Pittsburgh. It has become my favorite spot for watching fireworks: set high above the connecting rivers in the center of the city, not only can you see the huge Pittsburgh firework show at eye level, but you can also see the multiple other smaller firework shows from neighboring towns. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some pretty spectacular firework shows in my young life, so I don't really think twice about seeing another one every year. I suppose, growing up in this country, it's just "what you do."

This year is a little different.

I spent my time on Mt. Washington with a friend who grew up in the little town of Aliquippa, PA (where I am working for the month of July). I had been observing this friend, as he seemed deep in thought: set slightly apart from the rest of the group, face buried in his notebook, looking away only to lose himself in the view; only to reflect on his writing. I decided to join him. As we sat on that hill, waiting for the sun to set over the city, he began to share his recent past with me. Exactly a year ago, my friend had been watching the firework show from a television set - the television set inside of the jail he was in at the time. He began to recall his thoughts at that time with me - how somehow he just knew, even sitting inside of a locked down building, that next year would be different. Next year, he would be watching those fireworks from the mountain. Next year, he would be surrounded by people that truly cared about him, not people that only looked to him for "financial benefit."

And here he was, a year later: sitting on the mountain, watching the fireworks show and surrounded by a group of people that loved and cared for him.

If anyone understands the idea of liberation or freedom, it's my friend. Not even a year ago, he was a slave to the idea that, in order to be somebody, you have to feed the unhealthy addictions of others. He is now totally sold out to what it means to be the image of Christ - to changing the world through being the hands and feet of a Love bigger than anything he has ever experienced before.

Amen. [photo: Erin Dalton. Heart-shaped fireworks over Pittsburgh, PA.]

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