Posted by: Sue Spencer | May 30, 2008

Regaining my “freedom”?

A woman younger than I, who for a few years has been struggling to discern her call to religious life, told me once that she had a hard time with the thought of losing her freedom. That probably would have been one of my issues a couple of decades ago, but I’m discovering that my perspective has shifted.

Theoretically, I have a lot of “freedom” while I’m on this three-month vacation. I can go where I please, or not go anywhere. I can do as I please, or do nothing at all. I get to choose what books I read, and what movies I watch. I can choose when I get up, and when I go to bed – and in fact I’m grateful for this temporary respite from the alarm clock. But am I more “free” than I was in community? I don’t think so.

To me, freedom is no longer about the absence of restraints. Rather, it’s about pursuing our true calling, to be what we were created to be. One of my divinity school professors, Sharon Parks, used to talk about following our own deepest “I must.” And of course there’s that wonderful phrase in one of the Anglican collects, addressing God as the One “whose service is perfect freedom.”

I do think I was called for a time to be in community – and then I was called out again. In both cases, there was freedom – certainly not perfect freedom, but what I needed at the time.

What I have this summer isn’t freedom, so much as it is a chance to regroup. It’s been a while since I read William Bridges’ Transitions, but I would guess he would say I’m in the “neutral zone” right now. I’m catching up on rest, and especially on alone time (something in short supply in the religious life – a paradox, since so many introverts are drawn to it). The neutral zone is a good and even necessary place for me to be right now – and in that sense it is freeing – but I don’t expect to be any less free in August, when I start back to work, than I am now.



  1. I lost your phone number. Please email it to me. You sound good. I want to catch up. I love the book.
    Miss ya,

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