Ever since visiting Philadelphia two years ago -- the Liberty Bell has been my favorite American symbol. I remember on that sweltering day in June going through the exhibit, and being impressed by the stories of how different people had used the image of the bell as they sought to expand freedom: from abolitionists to suffragetes, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela and even the Dalai Lama. So what is it that has inspired people for so many years? Is it the history of the bell, the story of how it came to be, and its travels around the country? Is it perhaps the inscription, from Leviticus 25 -- "Proclaim liberty throughout the land" -- that suggests the year of jubilee and the justice promised? Is it that inscription, but instead because it shows us the religious roots of our democracy, and gives us a faith foundation for freedom?
I don't think so.
I think it's the crack.
Think about it. The bell proclaims our ideals, but the crack proclaims our imperfections. Together they are more powerful than the two would be apart.
The Bible is a book about saints with cracked lives. For me, that is part of its power. The people of God show God's glory, cracked lives and all. And we can still proclaim liberty, stand up to expand and work for justice, cracked lives and all.
Do you have a cracked life? I know I do. Sometimes we are so busy working on our cracks, or even sometimes hiding our cracks, that we think we don't have time to make our community or our world better. But we do.
So even if we aren't loving everything our country is doing right now, we can still love our country. We can love the ideals she stands for, and we can love the cracks, because they tell the honest truth: we still need to make things better.
As Martin Luther King once said, "Let freedom ring!"