Free Yourself

As I looked up at the large video screens in Bovard Auditorium, I saw Archbishop Desmond TuTu dancing to the song that we were singing, "We Let It Be". I was on stage singing with the Agape International Choir and Archbishop Tutu was dancing in the aisle. The last time I'd seen him I was in college when he came to speak at Stanford University. I remember being inspired by him then and nearly twenty years later, I was still inspired by his simple presence of love and wisdom.

Before the performance, a few members of the choir had ventured onto the USC campus in search of sustenance. As we exited Bovard Auditorium, Archbishop Tutu was exiting his motorcade. He stopped and bowed to us and we bowed to him. That spiritual sustenance was given to us by him and when we sang, we sent it back to all within the sound of our voices and beyond.

The occasion of our performance was the Freedom Awards sponsored by Free the Slaves. This notable organization was created with the goal of freeing all enslaved people around the world. Our host for the evening, Director Tom Shadyac, provided us with a new definition of slavery. Loosely, he said that a slave was anyone who worked with no compensation, was threatened with violence, and did not have the option of leaving without threat of death. He reminded us that until all people of the world are free, we cannot truly call ourselves free. I was inspired by the award winners who do work to free children who are enslaved in the sex trade, who are forced to kill in war, and who labor as fisherman pulling ropes with bloody hands.

Toward the end of the awards show, the choir headed to another part of campus where we created a tunnel of love filled with song. When the award show audience arrived, we sang to them as they walked between the two lines we formed to create the tunnel. I hear someone say, "Wow", in amazement as he passed. Then Archbishop Tutu came through and he touched our hands with his as he passed smiling warmly.

This feeling of connection, love, and compassion is what freedom truly is. When we connect to that feeling tone, we free ourselves and others. Will you free yourself?


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