Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trees of life

.
On this day many Christians celebrate what is called in Greek Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ (literally, "Raising Aloft of the Precious Cross"). I've also heard it called The Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross. It is all too much for me, as a Jew, to understand.
But I must admit I was surprised and pleased to see this first cross pictured below as a tree of life, blossoming and rooted in the earth! Life-giving.

In Judaism, the Torah is our tree of life. In the synagogue service we hold the Torah scroll and sing "Ets chaim hee..., It is a tree of life to those that hold fast to her."

Khachkars, or cross-stones, have been made in Armenia for over a thousand years. The cross-tree khachkar is a model of the of the Armenians' concept of the world during the Middle Ages.
The idea is explained well at the Khachkar website.


The khachkars above are in the wall outside St. James church in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

This cross-stone is in the courtyard of the Armenian Catholic church on the other side of the Old City. It recalls the Armenian genocide, a painful and complex chapter of history still waiting for recognition.
.
UPDATE Aug. 2016: More about khachkars and other things Armenian here:
https://auroraprize.com/en/armenia/detail/7447/10-ways-to-recognize-armenia-when-you-see-it
.
UPDATE June 2017: About a medieval cemetery in Armenia:  https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/06/21/armenian-cemetery-has-worlds-largest-collection-of-khachkars-stone-crosses-that-protect-the-soul/
.

14 comments:

Webradio said...

Hello Dina !

Beatiful shots...

The tree of life is important for all humans...

kjpweb said...

We do? But don't be surprised, I'm not a posterboy Christian, just subscribing to the core belief. Everything else, like Saints, certain festivities, denominations, scripture thumbing is out of my sphere - so no - never heard of it at all.
Cheers, Klaus

Kay said...

I remember when we went to Turkey on a tour. Our guide did mention the genocide and told us about the controversy. Sad, sad time.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

lovely crosses, thought provoking

the donG said...

if im amazed with the old churches in our country... these symbols and signs are stunning that you can actually imagine the past.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

trees give life, and we protect them, just like water, but in hania we don't necessarily protect that - we have water now, but what will happen in the future?!? (not to mention the broken water pipes that one comes across all the time on the road, and the water that runs out of them onto the street, without even being used!)

soulbrush said...

oh what a fabulous blog. i was in jerusalem with my family in 1987 and loved it, one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in the world. i will be visiting you again..shalom.

Reader Wil said...

Trees are often used as symbols in the Bible. The tree in the garden of Eden to begin with. I never heard of the tree of life, but then I am a protestant and we have less festivities to celibrate. A pity, I think! Thanks for showing all those crosses.

Petrea said...

We have many friends and neighbors of Armenian descent in our part of the world. They've been settling here for a long time. I hope they've found a good life here.

Michelle's Rambling Woods said...

I haven't heard of that..but I am not in contact with the religion I was raised in...

Kris said...

I can see why a tree is such a sacred object in such a dry place!

Dick said...

Wow, your country has so much history, nice shots

ichandrae said...

beautiful concept of the tree of life.I enjoyed the images. thanks.

Yes it is a paradox in the catholic faith that the cross represents suffering but also salvation but then I guess that is the paradox of life.

Thérèse said...

Thank you for this link which explains a lot. There are so many meaning for "Tree of life." There is something to reflect on in each one of them.