I've recently read Like Colour to the Blind by Donna Williams. It is an amazing insight into the world of two autistic people who find each other and together explore relationship, connection and love. Their courage and determination to push through compulsions, obsessions, automatic responses and perceptual distortions is inspiring.
I was struck by the fact that one of the things Donna had to learn was how to know what she, herself, truly liked and wanted as opposed to the "stored responses" of what others seemed to like so "that must be the best choice". Her life operated to a large extent on "stored responses" rather than truly free personal choice. In a much more mild and manageable way I recognize that I sometimes choose on the basis of "stored responses" or automatic pilot. For example I often look at my watch to decide if it is time to eat! I'm discovering that if I listen to whether I am actually hungry I eat at slightly different times. I often eat whatever is easily available in the fridge or cupboard rather then stopping to think what my body most wants. … I'm sure there are other examples too. I'm on the watch for them now!
Then this morning thanks to the Prodigal Kiwi Blog was this quote about freedom from a spiritual perspective:
Dr. Thomas A. Bausch & Dr.
James J. Spillane, S.J: “…People who are spiritually free are
tantalizingly alive. They take bold initiatives, do interesting things, have a
taste for adventure, are not threatened by other strong personalities and
can hold fast to their convictions even in the face of criticism and
disapproval… They know who they are and what they want to do, and are fully
engaged in living it. Such persons are interiorly free…” They have, they
note, “the ability to think and act without external or internal compulsions”.
Finally they highlight that “the spiritual life leads to freedom. The important
question is not "Am I happy?" but "Am I free?” Free to choose
what I most deeply want to do. If I am really free to choose, I will do the
things God wants me to do. Freedom is both from and for. Freedom from the net
of many strings and expectations that the false self has created. Freedom from
the fear that if I step out of a particular role, I will disappoint someone.
Freedom from the fear that if I do not espouse a certain position [or act in a
particular way] I will not be accepted. Freedom for relates to positive and
collaborative action in working with God to concretize His dream for the world
and its inhabitants. Love of God that does not show itself in service to
humankind is a snare and a delusion…”
So fascinating when the same theme pops up in totally un-related sources! I am taking note!