Hello friends, and welcome! I'm new to this whole "blogging" business, but an important part of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) work is telling the stories that CPTers see and experience -- to be an alternative voice, telling stories that otherwise wouldn't be told in America. (For example: oftentimes people are shocked to hear that, in Israel/Palestine, there are roads, called "bypass roads", on which Palestinians are not allowed to travel. The roads for Palestinians are not as direct or as well made, and oftentimes have checkpoints on them.) I thought blogging would be a helpful way of telling these stories. Also, some of you folks expressed interest in reading what I'm up to via blog, rather than (or in addition to) e-mail -- so this will be another way for me to keep in touch with you beautiful folks back home while I am "in the field" in Israel/Palestine. I have a little less than a month before I leave, but I established this blog now so that I can get in the habit of writing in it every now and again before I am "on team" -- I'll have enough to get used to when I first arrive, I'm sure, and I'd rather not have blogging be one of them.
Oh, and for those of you who haven't yet seen any photos from my training with CPT this July/August, I thought I would share a few of them (I took these photos myself! You don't understand how rare this is. It is hard for me to view life through a camera lens. I would much rather be present and engaged in the moment than capture it in a picture. Yet picture-taking is also an important part of CPT documentation work, so here I am, learning to take -- and enjoy taking -- pictures.):
This was a cloth/tapestry that hung in my room at the Darst Center -- the urban Catholic retreat center where we stayed during our month in training. I loved this cloth; I spent many a night looking at and meditating on it. I thought it was beautiful to see Mary and Jesus portrayed as not white, and I thought a lot about Mary's risky and radical obedience to God. To be pregnant out of marriage -- that would have been dangerous for her, given her culture, but she said "yes" anyway. What does her modeling mean for my life of faith? Mary's courage so inspires me and encourages me to say "yes" to God when I feel God's guidance, even if that guidance leads me to places and situations where I'm less than comfortable.
The red "flowers" hanging around the tapestry were lights, actually, courtesy of Rachel, whom I love dearly, and who was my amazing roommate for duration of the training. The artificial flowers that surrounded these lights were supposed to replicate the flowers that were from the tree where the Buddha -- found? sought? -- enlightenment.
One day, we talked to the Bible, as one would talk to another person. Ask me about it sometime. Or maybe I'll write about it later; I think folks should do it more often. It was such a freeing and profound experience, I took a picture. This was the Bible we talked to. And the Bible talked back!
This was at our training's graduation. These are some of the fantastic people who make up CPT's Support Team. Someone said, "Make a silly face!" So they all did.
While playing with my camera, I've learned I do much better taking pictures of inanimate objects than of people. I'm working on getting better.
I didn't take this picture -- because I'm in it! That's me giving Kryss, our training coordinator, a big hug after she gave me my diploma at graduation. (How about that -- I had two graduations in one year!)
This picture amuses me, because -- I don't know if you can see it clearly when the picture is this size -- I'm definitely up on my toes as I'm hugging Kryss. This is how I hug everybody, unless, of course, the hugee is someone else who is short, or if I am hugging another person around his or her waist.
This is my CPT diploma, mug, and shirt (in the lower left corner) I received at graduation.
This is me in my new, bright red CPT hat that serves as CPT's "uniform." I took this picture of myself as I was packing to leave the Darst Center and Chicago. Emotionally, I was excited and completely exhausted. I've never worked so hard for a hat before in my life! ;o)
Speaking of exhausted, that's what I'm going to be if I don't make myself go to sleep pretty soon. So with that, my friends, I will bid you good night. As they say in Arabic: Masalaamei! (Goodbye, or literally, "peace go with you")
Note for those less used to computers/the internet: Anything in this blog is underlined, and written with white lettering, is a link. If you click on it, it will take you directly to the website of the organization. For example, you can click on this: Christian Peacemaker Teams. It will take you directly to CPT's website. Anything else in this blog that looks like the above link works the same way.
About this Blog
"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.