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The Great Escape?

Liberty after Lockdown

By focussing on what is in front we lose sight of the bigger picture
By focussing on what is in front we lose sight of the bigger picture

One of my fondest childhood memories, is watching with my dad in that gluttonous, lethargic gap between Christmas and New Year, the film, The Great Escape for the nth time. Like the Sound of Music that appeared every Easter Sunday evening or there abouts, the Great Escape had its own annual showing that caused my mother to sigh, “Oh, Not again!” The movie for those who haven't had the fortune of being able to while away two hours and fifty two minutes, is Hollywood's take on the true story of a mass break out of 76 allied Prisoners of War from Stalag Luft III – a PoW camp that had been designed to hold fast those PoW's who had escaped other PoW camps. 

In the movie, Donald Pleasance played Colin Blythe, 'The Forger', whose job it was to forge German documentation for those prisoners who were hoping to escape. He's a remarkably talented man who with few resources was able to counterfeit complex identity cards and papers. However, because he spent so long working over the minutiae of every detail in front of him, he discovers that when it comes to the escape he cannot see the world around him. He is unable to focus on anything that is more than a few inches away from him and instead everything is just a blur.  

It's human nature to be like Colin - to focus intently on that which is right in front of us and lose sight of the bigger picture of what is going on in our lives and the lives of those around us. The season of Lent, which we are currently in, offers us that opportunity to step back and see the bigger picture and hear beyond the chatter of our own lives. For 40 days we're invited to fast from something that puts us at the centre of our lives because it pleases us, whether that's chocolate, alcohol, social media or such like and make space instead to see the bigger picture and hear the greater story of our lives. 

Like the PoWs in Stalag Luft III, the Great Escape is on and freedom beckons as lockdown is lifted. But as we slip the shackles of self isolation and seek integration into a society that is beyond the screen of wires behind which we have imprisoned, will we truly be free?  

Last Wednesday lunchtime, OS Alex Pilcher (PP,NH,HH, 02-16) joined us over Zoom to lead a discussion on the theme of Liberty after Lockdown. Taking a short passage from John 8, he mulled over Jesus' words: “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” and thoughtfully responded to some probing questions from his 6th Form audience about what that means for each of us. It was great to see a member of the OS share his perspective on one of life's BIG questions and I'm delighted that he has agreed to return in the summer term… when at last we will be free from Zoom!  

The big picture is not easy to grasp and seeing other people's perspectives can help us get a handle on what to think and see more clearly. But to do so, we have to be willing to invest our time and our attention to let others speak into our lives! True freedom is not being able to choose exactly what we want. Film star Jim Carrey, famously said, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that's not the answer.” Perhaps instead, the freedom that we long for is not to be found in our own hands but discovered when we lay down and surrender our own agendas and give control to the one who loves us most.  

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