Let your love, GOD, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—relishing every fragment of your counsel. Psalm 119:41-48 (The Message)
As our country remembered 9/11 and the lives lost on that day, husband and I were driving across the flatlands of South Carolina and into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We were reminded by the stories on the radio, the fire trucks on display in city centers, the flags half mast at the welcome centers, and by the banner waving patriots lining the overpasses of the Interstate. As we left the Interstate and drove along Cane Creek Road past schools, fire stations, stores, horse pastures and farms, I couldn’t help but think about how blessed we are as Americans. Our destination was Vicki and Rich’s lovely house in Sugar Hollow with its expansive view of Cold Mountain. I am proud to say I helped pick out some of the tiles and flooring, and the house turned out every bit as beautiful as we had hoped. Every detail is perfectly done, decorative items placed just so and pictures hung carefully. The colors are warm and inviting. The house reflects its mountain setting and the seasons. It is a sanctuary in every way. We spent the late afternoon sitting on her porch, walking among her gardens and watching the birds. Hummingbirds, Titmouse and Gold Finches flit among the feeders without fear of the humans that they entertain. I loved seeing the last of the summer garden and admiring the mounds of pumpkin and bright zinnias. While Vicki and husband put together an outdoor fire pit, I sat quietly enjoying the view and soaking up the peace of this special place. Just think of how unique our country is. We have a say in how our government is run. We can travel from state to state without needing a passport. We have the right to own land and to do with it as we please. To plant crops, to make a home and to know that we are safe from someone coming and taking it all from us. If accused of doing wrong, we have the right to a fair trial and an attorney to represent us. There has been a lot of talk in the past few weeks about the contentiousness of this 9/11 celebration as rights to free speech, land use and religious expression are debated. At the heart of all the controversy is the fact that someone else gave their life to ensure that you and I have the right to that debate and the ability to life in the luxury that we enjoy. I love this translation of these scriptures because they so elegantly state what freedom is about. Freedom includes access to the knowledge that enables us to discern the truth and at the same time, it requires us to be willing to guard that truth from lies and manipulation. And that was what I was thinking as I sat in peace and security and looked out on the beautiful landscape where two wars were fought and blood was shed to make us all Americans.