After traveling through six different states over the span of ten hours and more than 500 miles, I have reached my destination for the evening, Nashua, New Hampshire. As I attempt to travel to all fifty states (sixteen to go after this one), I figured being so close to my final destination of Maine for the next ten days or so, I thought I’d jump the border!
Of all the state mottos, New Hampshire has one of the most memorable and most blunt of the fifty states…Live Free or Die. As I saw it flash before me many of times when I entered the State, I couldn’t help but to think that they are some true words; or even better, that in order to live life freely, who we think we are must die. Maybe those words are more relevant right now because I know in just about 24 hours, I will be in Acadia National Park preparing with my companions on the experience of a vision quest.
The vision quest provides the space, literally and figuratively, to allow who we think we are to die and to recognize that “i” is not how I am defined as a person. In order for us to experience true freedom and to live freely, it all must die; in reality, I must die in order for the Christ within to live.
Tomorrow I will stop in Bangor in order to pick up one of the other guys who is participating before we take the hour or so drive into Acadia to meet up with everyone else. I don’t know much about them and vice versa, and yet, we all converge at this moment in history in Maine with the questions of who we really are, how we have defined ourselves up to this point , to face the fears that keep us from living out our true self, and just as importantly, the purpose for which God has created us and the exploring of one’s soul.
We come from all walks of life, and yet, there is something common about the journey and the mission at hand…the mission is not to choose to live free or die, but rather to do both, to die in order that I, and them, may live freely. All done in the confines of nature and the great outdoors, the greatest non-judgmental teacher we have; only now, for me, in an unknown location, reaching unknown parts of myself. The motto, less the “or”, defines much of what I can anticipate and stirs up anxiety within these next days. I know there are images of the self that must die, but at this point, the desire to live is much greater than to worry about what it is that must die.
And so, in just a few short hours, the quest will begin. Four men, one woman, and a leader who will help to mirror the experience for us, all setting out to live life more freely from what holds us back, from what has defined us, from who we think we are, and from settling in life, often for death. Tomorrow the choice to live free becomes a reality. No it will not be easy and much will surface, but in the end, it is right, not just for me, but for all of us and for all that the Creator has desired of me and us in this life. Thanks New Hampshire for the memorable beginning…die in order to live free.