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Lions Roar : July 2017
Freedom starts where we are. Sara, a single mom with two kids, found out that her eight-year-old daughter, Alicia, had leukemia. Sara was terrified, anxious, grieving the loss of her child’s health, scared that she would lose her. For the first year, Alicia went through long rounds of che- motherapy, hospital stays, and doctors. A fearful sadness filled the house and anxiety colored Sara’s days. Then, one afternoon when they were out on a walk, Alicia said, “Mama, I don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want them to be happy days.” Her words were a splash of cold water on her mother’s face. Sara realized that she had to step out of the fearful melodrama to meet her daughter’s freedom of mind with her own, to return to a trusting spirit. Sara grabbed her daughter and did a little waltz, holding her tight. Her fear dissipated. And in time, Alicia healed. She is now twenty-two and just graduated from college. But even if she hadn’t healed, what kind of days would you have had her choose? You can’t do much with your life if you’re miserable. You might as well be happy. When I was eight years old, on an especially bitter windy winter day, my brothers and I dressed in jackets and scarves and gloves and went out to play in the snow. I was skinny as a rail and shivering with cold. My twin brother, Irv, stronger, wilder, and more robust, looked at me, contracted and fearful, and laughed. Then he began to remove layers of clothing—first the gloves, his coat, then a sweater, his shirt, under- shirt, all the while laughing. He danced and paraded around half-naked in the snow, the icy wind whipping around us. We were all wide- eyed, laughing hysterically. In that moment, my brother taught me about choosing freedom, manifesting a spirit that to this day I still remember. Whether we’re in a wildly blowing snowstorm or feeling the cold wind of loss, blame, or our collective insecurity, we want to be free. We want to be released from fear and worry, not confined by judgments. We can. We can learn to trust love, express ourselves, and be happy. As we discover trust and freedom in our- selves, we will then find our way to share them with the world. Barbara Wiedner, who founded Grandmothers for Peace, explains, “I began to question the kind of a world I am leaving for my grandchildren. So I got a sign, ‘A Grandmother for Peace,’ and stood on a street corner. Then I joined others kneeling as a human barrier at a munitions factory. I was taken to prison, strip- searched, and thrown into a cell. Something happened to me. I realized they couldn’t do anything more. I was free!” Now Barbara and her organization, Grandmothers for Peace, works in dozens of countries around the world. This freedom is here for you as well. You can begin person- ally, with freedom of spirit, freedom to start over, freedom beyond fear, and freedom to be yourself, and then discover freedom to love, freedom to stand up for what matters, and freedom to be happy. Finding freedom is an active process that engages your intellect, your heart, and your whole spirit. The means and the goal are one—be yourself, dream, trust, and act. You can choose your spirit. Freedom, love, and joy are yours, in your very life, your exact circumstance. They are your birthright. ♦ From No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom and Joy Right Where You Are, by Jack Kornfield, PhD. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. PHOTOBYROALDSUNDAL/MILLENNIUMIMAGES,UK