Living a Life of Dignity

I like to run, but not a lot. Enough to release stress, hang out with friends, and sort through life’s challenges. By the end of my runs, life seems better. More manageable. This year my running plan is to finish my book. That will be my marathon. And . . . it will be . . . a marathon. My finish line is set for October 28, my birthday. Throughout the year I will blog “sneak peaks” into my writing.

Starting right now.

My book explores the word dignity. To begin here, with this word, I want to share a paragraph from a another book written by my writing coach, David Hazard. His bestselling book, Blood Brothers, was published in 1984 with much controversy, as it presented a Palestinian perspective on the ongoing conflict in Israel. It is now translated into 29 languages. David writes the story of Elias Chacour, a Palestinian-Arab-Christian-Israeli. Archbishop Chacour exudes a deep love for both Jews and Palestinians and has dedicated his life to promote peace between these divided people. In fact, he has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I don’t profess to be an expert or understand even a fraction of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. This is what I do profess. The turmoil is deeply rooted, multifaceted, and spans generations. And the turmoil has seriously affected people. Living, breathing people like you and me.

This morning I journaled, “I am grateful for a life in a country of opportunities.” If I choose to better myself, I can. Because I live in America. I have traveled enough to know this to be true. If you have not traveled outside this country, I encourage you to put that at the top of your bucket list. And I don’t mean sign up for a cruise where you disembark for a day to consume umbrella drinks with other tourists. I mean, visit another country. Engage in its culture. Walk in someone else’s shoes. Blood Brothers helped me see the complexity of the issues in Israel. And it left me with this word: dignity.

What does this word mean? I mean, what does it really mean? In everyday life? Out in our world? Within you and me?

Elias Chacour says this, in chapter nine of Blood Brothers, about dignity:

“Suddenly I knew that the first step toward reconciling Jew and Palestinian was the restoration of human dignity. Justice and righteousness were what I had been hungry and thirsty for: This was the third choice that ran like a straight path between violent opposition and calcified, passive nonresistance. If I were really committing my life to carry God’s message to my people, I would have to lift up, as Jesus had, the men and women who had been degraded and beaten down. Only by regaining their shattered human dignity could they begin to be reconciled to the Israeli people, whom they saw as their enemies. This, I knew at once, went beyond all claims of land and rightful ownership; it was the true beginning.”

This word, dignity, is at my book’s core. To be finished October 28.

Thoughts about dignity? About Elias Chacour? About your core?

 

For more information about Elias Chacour, check out these videos:

 

i want to live

Scan 1

I have lots of favorite books. Here’s one of my newest ones: her white tree by terri st.cloud. (And yes, she doesn’t use capital letters).

I’ve never underlined as many sentences and dog eared as many pages as I have in this book. Here’s a sample of her writing. May you live this week like it’s a gift.

i want to really really live.

i want to laugh til my stomach tightens so much

that it aches and my legs hurt from my slapping them.

i want to cry from my gut and let the tears wash me

to where i need to go.

i want to hear the singing of my heart,

and let the sounds echo inside me

and i want to dance to that music.

i want to fill with compassion and touch

someone’s face so gently that they can feel

the caring in my fingertips.

i want to love so deeply that my cells vibrate with it

and just standing near me you can feel the buzz

of the vibrations.

i want to know that i’m worthy and i’m good

and i want to leave self doubt on the highway.

i want to touch the sky and recognize my soul in it.

i want to walk in the rain and drop to my knees

in gratitude for this gift of life i have been given.

may i never ever forget what a gift it truly is.

How NOT to be a Tourist

“This is the difference between being a tourist and a pilgrim. A tourist has new experiences, but remains the same person. A pilgrim experiences new places and is transformed by them.”

I’m still exploring The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Paintner and enjoying every bit, every page, every piece of the journey. According to Paintner in “Invite Wonder,” every day can be a pilgrimage.

What if scrubbing the dishes became an act of single reverence for the gift of being washed clean, and what if the rhythmic percussion of chopping carrots became the drumbeat of your dance?

What if you stepped into the shower each morning only to be baptized anew and sent forth to serve the grocery bagger, the bank teller, and the bus driver through simple kindness?

And what if the things that make your heart dizzy with delight were no longer stuffed into the basement of your being and allowed out to play in the lush and green fields?

There are two ways to live in this world:

As if everything were enchanted or nothing at all.

Soul of a Pilgrim

I love to read. Currently, I’m enjoying several books. I don’t like reading that way necessarily, but it just happened that way this summer. I’d love to tell you about all my books. Instead, I’ll leave you with this poem from The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Painter. (Sorry for the crazy spacing. It’s an annoying Wordpress thing. Each space break represents a line break).

And, as a bonus, here’s a link to another one of my all-time favorite songs, Pilgrim by Enya. Enjoy.

Air travel is like    ancient pilgrims walking on their    knees, flight delays and narrow seats    offer their own kind of penance.

You jettison excess baggage,    leaving behind the heavy makeup case,    knowing the rain will    wash you free of artifice.

Books you wanted to carry left too,    no more outside words needed,    then go old beliefs which keep    you taut and twisted inside.

Blistered feet stumble over rocky    fields covered with wildflowers and you    realize this is your life,    full of sharp stones and color.

Red-breasted robins call forth    the song already inside,    a hundred griefs break open under    dark clouds and downpour.

Rise and fall of elation and exhaustion,    the tides a calendar of unfolding,    a bright star rises and you remember    a loved one waiting miles away.

A new hunger is kindled by the sight of    cows nursing calves in a field,    spying a spotted pony, you forget    the weight and seriousness of things.

Salmon swim across the Atlantic,    up the River Corrib’s rapids to the    wide lake, and you wonder if you have    also been called here for death and birth.

This is why we journey:    to retrieve our lost intimacy with the world,    every creature a herald of poems    that sleep in streams and stones.

“Missing you” scrawled on a postcard sent home,    but you don’t follow with    “wish you were here.”    This is a voyage best made alone.