I have never commented on a post about a book that I have not read, but I will today. I happened upon an interview on television of Amanda Lindhout, coauthor with Sara Corbett of the book A House in the Sky. The book is Amanda’s story from her early childhood days until her captivity in Somalia in 2008
Early in her life, Amanda suffered in a home of violence and used her imagination to escape. She paged through the pages of National Geographic magazines and began to dream of he places she might visit. When she became an adult, she began to fulfill the dreams as she traveled to many parts of the world. Her travels brought her to Somalia where she was captured by four men who held her hostage for 460 days. While with them she lived totally alone except when she was taken for torture by her captives. In her aloneness, she revisited all of the places she’d gone in detail. Then one day, she imagined visiting a house in the sky, “high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark”. She filled her mind with the details of the house, imagined herself being there – safe.
One day (as she reported in her interview) she was being beaten and she imagined herself as though watching down from her house. She could see herself being harmed but as she looked at her torturers she saw that they too were harmed. She saw their suffering and understood why they were beating her. She was able to forgive them in that moment, she said.
I will have to read the book to discover how she was released, but I can imagine that her inner shift influenced the outcome in some way. Since her return she has been involved in an outreach program. Oprah.com says this about Lindhout: “The determination that kept Lindhout alive fuels her now as she runs the Global Enrichment Foundation, which empowers Somali women through education, among other initiatives. Still, at any moment, even a smell can hauntingly trigger a phantom gut-punch, an instant panic.” PTSD
A pacifist, I want so much to tell others that those who are terrorists were once terrorized or they watched while those they loved were terrorized or killed. It is the knowing of this that allowed Jesus to say on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I am absolutely convinced that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he was calling us to this profound understanding about the roots of terror. I once heard Ernie Larson, near and dear to those in recovery, say “Hurt people hurt people.” The woman that inspired this blog, Peace Pilgrim said, “Violence begets violence.” Jesus’ words, “Turn the other cheek.” The response that Jesus calls forth is not to hurt back – this is what he rejected when he told his disciple to put his sword back into its scabbard after cutting off the ear of one of the men who captured him in the garden. Rather, Jesus calls us to look from a higher place and see the pain of those who inflict pain.
I realize this is the most difficult of paths. It is a tighter squeeze than that of a camel going through the eye of a needle. Few can follow it. I don’t know if I could follow if I were in Amanda’s situation. None of us know before a time it might happen. But I think I am supporting the Amanda’s in this world when I speak her message of compassion.
I will read the book when I am ready. I just wanted you to know.