My brother’s soul fights the fear of desolation. Cold. Dark. Alone in the night. And, he chases shivers with fire because you learn to live like that in a tent city. In February. In Kiev.
Things don’t come easy here.
The fire that holds back the arctic breeze scorches the skin, burns the hand, brings a tear of determination as this city burns.
Exhaling in and out, the soul of a man can die desolate, hopeless, pale and shivering in the icy, Ukrainian midnight or it can find a voice, find a hand. Raise it up. Rise up.
Because the EU can’t promise it. And, the West didn’t define it. God did. Way back when. When the garden was good and perfect and the people knew walking with God like they knew inhaling oxygen. Natural. Automatic. Effortless.
Ironic, is it not? The minute that woman grabbed free will by its shiny skin and sank her teeth into fleshy sweetness, we lost our freedom. The gift became our desolation. Cold. Dark. Suddenly alone.
And we have been clawing our way back to freedom ever since. Chipping away northern ice and breaking cement for Molotov cocktails to defend this tent city that was never supposed to be.
I wonder how we get back to the gift?
Freedom. Where are you?
We bathe in the glow of your warmth. We wear you in trendy fashion. We dine from your bounty. But are we unaware or just unfettered by the source that was tied up naked and starved to provide you for our consumption?
Cocoa plants, stripped, bean by bean by bean. How many does it take to satiate my chocolate basket? Pressed, melted, processed into bars fingered by chubby 2 year-old hands that should be coloring pictures and snuggling into a mother’s bosom, and chasing butterflies unawares. In a far away place that I have never been with an exotic name that I cannot be bothered to pronounce, freedom never exhaled a childhood giggle but it produced chocolate for me.
Freedom has addresses where it fights to live and faces that I do not recognize: Kiev. Côte d’Ivoire. Asia. China. Venezuela. North Korea. America. the Balkan Penninsula. Moldova.
And the list of the freedomless, voiceless, optionless, goes on, slithering from geographical points on a map to skin and blood and bones that make up desolate souls and broken bodies: girls pimped to prostitute, men unwillingly forced to labour, children brutalized, beaten, robbed of their childhood and stripped of their humanity. Cold. Dark. Alone in the night. And, my comfortable world is barely, rarely touched.
Hands. And voices. Lifted in the Ukraine, weeping, demanding, grabbing freedom and defining it for a global community. Dirty with corruption or sticky with blood but, in Maidan today, freedom is on everyone’s lips. Spit it or scream it or pray it or whisper it with the last breath on planet earth but the word will be heard.
The question is, who is listening?
Because way back when, a man who formed stars also touched ears and he said, ‘Let him who has ears, hear.’
Sometimes I hear but I do not understand. Funny how words become so much meaningless speech when our ears are broken.
They say that ‘Maidan‘ comes from the Turkish word ‘square’. A left-over nugget from a time when the ancient Ottomans marched through a continent, conquering, shaping, re-defining Europe.
And the Slavic people kept the word, bequeathing it to the generations to come until this generation rose up with voices, crying “EuroMaidan”. The announcement of a people ready to wrestle their future from the bondage of a past.
There are politicians and protesters and police and public officials who have thrown words like grenades and somebody always comes away bloody when arsenals are opened.
And you and I? We will probably turn off the news and shake our heads because who can make sense out of stories that can’t find their beginning and seem to have no end. We have grown weary and cold in this tent city so far from the Eden we almost remember.
The slimy snake is sneaky like that. ‘Did God really say?‘ Did you actually hear? Because freedom isn’t yours to give and girls on roadsides warming themselves by fire and workers in sweatshops and babies stripping cocoa plants are none of your concern’.
Desolate soul. Yours. Mine. If the Ukraine clarifies anything in our human story today, it is not about politics or economics, or social reform, or human rights. The Maidans of our global community, of our century, of our decade. of this moment when our life-fire burns brightly are an opportunity to get back to the gift. And that IS our concern.
“Yes. God really did say, ‘you are free‘.”
When the blood flowed. When the body was broken. When the God who flung stars and fixed ears said ‘do this and remember‘, then, chains fell off and captives tapped a freedom dance.
Today in Kiev, humanity woke from a long night and looked at the clock in the tent. Has peace come? Is justice served? Is freedom at hand?
And the question is bigger than events in Ukraine. And it is bigger than you and me. But, our answer IS crucial.
Babies don’t protest slave labor. Prostitutes can no longer believe that love has a face. There are desolate souls chasing shivers in tent cities all across our globe and right down our street. And, sometimes I think we believe the slimy lies, ‘You can’t really change anything. It’s not your concern.”
The Church, both Orthodox and Protestant, set up a tent, shared a tent, in the middle of Maidan, where candles burned and prayers rose, and people came. The Church, in unity, became an active part, an integral presence, a functioning, loving, visible, touchable, reminder of the God who flung stars, of the Man who fixed ears, of the Savior who bled and broke for a freedom dance in a tent in a Square.
Hands. Voices. Raise them up. Church. Rise Up.
Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!
Orthodox Monks pray in Maidan: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/67776.htm
App for ethical shopping awareness: http://www.ethical.org.au/get-involved/resources/shop-ethical-app/
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