So just to set the stage a little, I was in a cave on a hilltop in Palestine that is so beautiful that these pesky little words could never do justice to it. Caves were a common use for housing in this region because they are cool in summer, warm in the winter and many times naturally occurring. During the Roman occupation they sliced flat land into the curve of the hills for farming, giving the illusion of being surrounded by huge mounds of swirling stairs. People in the Middle East are very hospitable so they made us a traditional Arabic lunch that was so warm and comforting it made the cold wind seem less cold. The air there is clean, the views expansive and the land full of the type of people that make you think. They jolt you into the reality of the depravity of this world and simultaneously the remarkable grace we’ve been extended to play a part in making it better. The type of people who unabashedly proclaim, “we refuse to be enemies” not just as plaque to pay homage to the phrases of the ‘shoulds’, but because it’s actually their only response to the individuals who remain devoted to being enemies. Whatever it is we think of when we think of the great heroes of peace, these are those people.
So back to the cave - a woman stepped in to join us and tell us a little about herself. She is from Scotland and believes in taking care of this earth we live on…so do I, I recycle, take re-usable bags to the grocery store and I don’t use plastic water bottles.
We’re the same.
She believes in sustainable farming and stopping the pollutants we pump into the air, same here, I drive a Subaru and it's partial green emission and I shop at the farmer’s market sometimes. We are women of conviction her and I, although I recently heard about the plastic wasted in the keurig coffee pods & its affect on the environment, but I really don’t think I can give that up. It’s a little extreme to start filling up the little reusable coffee pod with fresh grounds, too far green peace, too far.
She understands that airplanes are a big source of pollutants in our eco-system so she chose to ride her bike from Scotland to Palestine. I’m just going to say that again, she road her bike from Scotland to Palestine because she believes in taking care of our planet.
We are not the same.
She believes in organic sustainable farming so she came to a hilltop outside of Bethlehem to live and work for a year. She believes in peace amongst the Christian Churches so she carried with her a candle from her home church to light and pray for the peace of the world. Then she lived in one of the most war torn areas to participate with a group of people that are committed to making a difference in a conflict the rest of the world has seemingly given up on. There is a density to someone like that, someone whose ribbon of conviction runs all the way from speech to heart to action.
I learned from this woman so much about belief and choices, about deciding what I think and believing it so earnestly that I let it seep into my bones, change me and inconvenience me. The scariest thing we can do is let life just pass us by without ever figuring out what we think about religion, this life, what we’re doing here, and then making choices in light of that. In my darkest hour where I’m hanging on by my fingernails to the faith I’ve chosen to believe, I’m never afraid that I’ll get it wrong, I’m only afraid that I’ll just stop trying and I’ll never let it change me. Whatever I believe, I want to believe in it so completely that it makes me different, even when the difference is hard, even when it means riding a bike 2,500 miles as the crow flies.