Let's talk about your need for holy leisure, interior freedom, poetic education, creative expression and cultural engagement. Authentic, joyful, humorous...many talks to choose from...custom crafted presentations...workshops, retreats, group facilitation...let me help you!
There is a dimension of freedom I consider to be its highest realization. I tell my kids all the time that the highest form of freedom is to do in freedom what you must do. Good luck with that! It’s easier said than done, but it’s also not as impossible as it sounds. It’s a paradox!
Are you free if you are obligated to act? It sounds like a contradiction, but a high form of freedom is to fulfill obligations with an interior freedom that is not sacrificed, but placed in service. In freedom, we bind ourselves to religious vows, marital faithfulness, and to the rules of our voluntary organizations. In such cases the difference between freedom and bondage is our capacity to maintain interior freedom while our actions are constrained by the rules and promises we’ve made.
Social courtesies are a small training ground for this capacity, but in our day they are often dismissed as old-fashioned, lost for lack of common usage, or resented as empty formalities. Take, for example, the obligation placed upon you to respond to an invitation. Granted, you did not ask for the invitation, yet it does (or it used to) impose upon you a duty to say yes, or no. Sadly, many recipients today simply dismiss this opportunity to re-weave the social fabric and another opportunity is lost. When non-response becomes the norm, then bondage becomes the norm as our response-ability atrophies.
A gift invites the response of gratitude. Sure, you could write that blasted thank-you note just because you have to, or you could write it in true freedom, realizing it is an ennobling responsibility. It’s not that the giver only gave in order to force you to write that note! A person who always just assumes the giver knows he’s grateful, but never expresses it is missing opportunities to enlarge his sphere of response-ability. No one can make you go to Mass, return phone calls, keep appointments, accept invitations, offer help, contribute, participate, or vote. But if you do what you should, you’ll grow in freedom.