Zell am see Kaprun

After leaving home and watching a sunrise in Iceland, I enjoyed a gloriously deep sleep with my dad and Mary on a down pillow at Johannahof’s Gausthaus in Kaprun, Austria. Finding our first meal in 24 hours was the singular endeavor that drove me to extricate myself from bed at 6:30 this morning. The thought was to locate a grocery store so that when it opened we would have an immediate heading, but to our surprise we found one just over a mile away up and running! Only a portion of our spoils survived past the footpath home, but with more than half a kilo of nectarines in my belly, the alpine valley through which we moved was impossibly even more beautiful than before. I marvel at this world and at the blessing I have to see so much of it. God’s hand was definitely in our journey here. No one batted an eye in security or customs when Mary handed them a passport and boarding pass for different people. It was easy to call her Kristen, but she doesn’t exactly pull off 38 years old. Needless to say, getting her and ourselves over the Northern hemisphere couldn’t have been more smooth. Minor adventures of the last couple days would be driving on a bike path to avoid a construction zone and my own falsified identity to register to compete at the 70.3 on Saturday. To the Ironman World I am officially Rebekah Rushton, of the youngest legal competing age of 18.

Hours later…

… I have no desire to sleep right now, though it is the middle of the night. I listened to a conversation, first from bed and then from beneath the stars where it was held between my dad and a friend, Jason, who’s spent the last month in Europe. He spoke briefly of a person he casually met. This man had no title or visible sign to the world that set him apart, but as I heard about what he’d been through and the cause he had and continues to risk his life for, I knew that he was great in a way hard to describe. I realized that heroism is not in events or something that just comes out when the need is there. There is a greatness, a nobility, a courage, clarity and fire possessed by some people and cultivated over a lifetime. This man possessed it. As Jason gave him a ride to hut, far from civilization in the mountains of Italy, this man spoke of things that happen in the world that aren’t heard of in the US. You see, this man was from Egypt, where riots and civil upheaval abounded. Horrible things happened as part of the persecution and violence. There were rapes and murders within the crowd and people just walked around. People just walked around. Almost everyone, but not quite. Though it didn’t take anything to recognize the need for action, just a few did. This particular man joined with a group that protected women in the most literal way possible. He so casually related to Jason a recent time when he and 10 others were fighting to protect three women in the street. They were outnumbered, backed against a wall fighting desperately with anything they could, in a ring with the women inside. One of this man’s friends died that day, but the story just continued, for this was this guy’s life. People were killed, but more importantly, other people needed to be protected. This man spoke of the unbelievable events in his life as they seemed to him, just how things were: Ordinary.  But the way he reacted is extraordinary. When so many disregard morality when it’s inconvenient, they become insensitive to its call. But there remain those who stand; those who understand what is right and do it, no matter the cost. Till they die, they will not remove themselves from their integrity. And in doing so, they not only are the means of saving others, but they preserve their own souls, burning so intensely with a depth of character and purity of heart because they never smothered it out of fear, out of convenience, or because no one else was doing anything, anyway.

We have an eternal responsibility to be guardians of virtue. We aren’t now told to cross the sea and die for the cause. At least most of us aren’t. Rather, it’s little things; the media we accept, our thoughts and our preparation that proves us. It’s hard and the glory is not obvious. Every day, it requires wisdom, discipline, kindness, faith and fire. The resulting power is held by ordinary people, but it is there. It is real and fierce and righteous, and it is never passive.

While I like to think of myself as pretty self-sufficient, as a girl and young woman I’ve always found a profound peace in being watched over by a guy who carries this mantle. I really can’t express how thankful I am that for me this need has always been met, thanks to my dad. I couldn’t ask for a better example of the provider and protector I strive to be worthy to marry someday.

Well, that concludes my first secret digital journal entry. The thoughts of my heart, often frivolous, intended for whatever small audience with whom I choose to share. Keep it secret, but share any thoughts that speak to you and please argue with me about the points upon which I am mistaken. Gute Nacht.

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