I’m heading west on a roadtrip to visit an Elephant Sanctuary. For years, I’ve told friends I might leave everything behind and go to Africa and live with the elephants! Though I haven’t made that leap, elephants have taken up residence in my heart. I’m thrilled to have a chance to get a glimpse of these majestic animals, even if from afar.
The elephants, tigers and bears living in the sanctuary have been freed from circuses and zoos. The public is only allowed to visit a handful of days each year, and just a small group of people each time. There is no direct contact with the animals. They are no longer required to perform. They’ve been released from the bondage they’ve been caged inside for decades, having been stolen from their homes and families, harmed, malnourished, isolated from kin, and forced to abide by the demands of humans.
Now these magnificent creatures have a chance to remember their instinctive nature. Re-embody elephantness. Reclaim tigerhood. Reawaken the natural ways of being bear. They are free to choose where they go, what they do, when they eat and sleep, and who they befriend. Their intelligence, curiosity and languages can more openly be expressed. There is spaciousness to heal the effects of the trauma. They are finding their footing and learning to trust in life again, to delight in life again, in their own timing and pace.
While packing up food, clothes, ceremonial bundles, and maps, I’ve been pondering liberation. Freedom is everybody’s birthright. The freedom to be who you are, to live your genuine way of being, is your birthright ~ whether you’re elephant, tiger or bear, sunflower, microbe, river or human, rainforest, starfish or spider, lizard, raven or wind. There are sacred purposes in everyone and everything’s existence in the incomprehensible wonder of creation.
Freedom does not mandate consensus and sameness. Freedom doesn’t require losing yourself, becoming someone or something you’re not. Freedom won’t be birthed by genocide and endless war, by believing the lies about who’s superior or inferior and who’s worthy or not of respect and love. Freedom won’t be found by caging others in, by dehumanizing and denaturing the mind, body and spirit of anyone or anything.
Everybody ~ each and every body ~ all sizes, shapes, colors, self-expressions, and purposes, all intellects, lifespans, species and forms ~ is deserving of fresh air and clean water, ample nourishment, sunlight and fertile soil, and plenty of room to roam, to love and be loved, to rest, heal, learn and grow.
Remember how it feels to love ourselves and each other into flourishing existence? Freedom grows from the inside out and from the outside in.
Each of us has the potential to set ourselves and others free. What doors are you yearning to open in your life? And for others? What judgments and fears, walls and false borders, need to be dismantled inside ourselves and in our world? Whose voices are calling out ~ not only in human languages ~ for essential care, equity, respect and understanding? What new kinships are you ready to weave?
Freedom is filled with boundless love for life, with choices and discernment, with cherishing of uniqueness, with awe and curiosity about being and becoming.
Freedom flows within us and between us, a generous infinite sharing from one being or group or species to another and back. The gift of our own and others’ liberation ripples into the human collective and gets woven into the web of life on earth. The gift of our own and others’ liberation leaves a legacy for the generations now and to come.
Here’s to listening and seeing with the eyes of the heart, to shaping our relationships and filling our words with unbridled and steadfast knowing that freedom is everyone’s birthright.
Here’s to sharing the Love that opens door after door so everybody can flourish and simply be who they are, wildly unique and free.