A Rope and a Prayer- excerpts

This weekend I finished A Rope and a Prayer, the story of an American journalist who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for 7 months over the border in Pakistan. One of the reasons I was inspired to study discomfort and tough times for 3 months was my curiosity with how a deeper self can be revealed in extreme moments. This book did not disappoint.
Bookshelves at Maddy's in London.

I'm no expert on that area of the world and to be honest, I'm way behind on my news reading. I almost didn't want to start this book because I thought it would be out of my league and that it would be full of torture. I don't sleep well when I read about or watch movies about torture, so I was happy when the book was a very reasonable read for me, no torture and instead, lots of thoughtful moments.

The chapters flip between David's story (the kidnapped journalist) and Kristen's story (his wife, an editor at Cosmo). And while neither of them are particularly religious when the book begins, it was interesting to watch their slow path towards prayer.

"I try to view this through a larger lens: Why is this happening? What am I meant to learn from this situation? Patience. Surrender. These things spring to mind. Patience is my least favorite virtue, but I am certain this is the lesson I am meant to master through this harrowing test… I pray for the strength to not give up and, simultaneously, the ability to surrender. My prayer does not take a traditional or eloquent form of incantation. I do not have the strength for this. I merely express the words, "Help me, help us." These seem the most fitting and easiest to access."
- Kristen, page 105

"As time passes, I realize I must control my thoughts to fight off depression. Certain actions immediately raise my spirits, such as walking, talking with Tahir, and reliving moments with Kristen. Other actions leave me discouraged, such as conversations with the guards. Strictly managing my day and my thoughts becomes a survival tool. 

For the first time in my life, I begin praying several times a day. I struggle to remember the Lord's Prayer and don't know if I'm reciting it correctly. Resorting to prayer heightens my sense of desperation, but it also gives me something to do each day, a task the guards cannot stop me from silently completing. In the months ahead, I will realize that prayer is something they can never take from me."
- David, p. 112


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