Monday, March 31, 2008
But since this is a Jerusalem blog, I have no photos of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Also no pictures of archangels, and none of Mary alone. But I DO have something with Gabriel's name on it. Look at this!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Look at this sleek new flashlight! Its solar panel recharges the 3 AA batteries. For about every two hours charged in sunlight the BoGo will give light for one hour. BoGo stands for Buy one, Give one. That's the best part. For every one you pay for, the SunNight Solar company in Texas gives one to a person in a war zone or refugee camp or in the developing world. I believe this sharing mitsvah is what prompted my altruistic son in California to pay for two and mail one BoGo to me.
Do read "The Importance of Light" at http://www.bogolight.com/Articles.asp?ID=6.
Here is just the first surprising idea there:
"Why does light matter? Two billion people living in the developing world rely on kerosene lanterns, candles, and single-use battery flashlights for light at night. Not only are these options expensive, dangerous, and harmful to the environment, they also negatively impact health, education, and security. Literacy and Education Our lights provide an opportunity for children to read at night and to extend school hours. This is especially important in developing countries where most children spend all day tending crops, taking care of livestock, or working in cottage industries. Kerosene is increasingly expensive, especially given the recent rise in the price of petrochemicals, so many families cannot afford it. Flashlights are even more expensive, and candles do not provide adequate lighting to read. As a result, many children will never learn to read and will be trapped in a life of poverty. Our lights give them a chance at a better life, thus education is one of the strongest pillars in our vision to light the world."
I admire people of vision and of generous heart who come up with ideas like this and ways to share. And thank you too, dear son, for caring about your mama. This great flashlight can be the start of my emergency survival kit for the next big earthquake and/or war.
(Sheh lo nedah.)
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I hope the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians remember to reset the giant watch that hangs on the iconostasis of their church in the Holy Sepulchre.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Having studied German all four years of high school and all four years of university, I am obviously fond of the language. But that was in the USA. Here in Israel, German can be problematic. Last week Angela Merkel came to congratulate Israel on our upcoming 60th birthday. Despite the objections and sensitivities of several members of our parliament, the Knesset House Committee decided to allow the Chancellor to address the Knesset in German.
I am happy we have come this far.
Dr. Merkel said good things and got a standing ovation. Oh and by the way, she surprised everyone by opening her speech with several sentences in Hebrew.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In this received photo my Number One Grandson dresses up in costume. (In truth, he sports it not only on Purim.) As my daughter wrote in her blog, from Australia, "What boy doesn't dream of having Spiderman as a big brother?"
A friend emerges from the entrance of the rock-hewn tomb. It is unmarked and easy to miss, below a little hill in a public park in Jerusalem's New City.
"And very early on the first day of the week the women went to the tomb . . . And they were saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?' And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large." . . .
And sitting on the stone was an angel who said, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I thought its message could be appropriate for this somber Great and Holy Saturday when Christians wait quietly for mourning to be transformed into joy. For them the "day of the entombed Christ" means much prayer, fasting, and watchful expectation.
I can imagine it is a difficult day, being just after crucifixion and not yet at resurrection. To describe the feeling of this day, and of Holy Week, the Greeks needed one special word: xarmolipi. It conveys joyful-sadness.
The altar of the Greek Orthodox Chapel of the Raising of the Cross stands over a glassed-in part of the Rock of Calvary. The disc under the altar has a small hole through which pilgrims can touch the rock which held the cross.
It is the 12th of the 14 Stations of the Cross, or Via Crucis, also called the Via Dolorosa.
Many are the stones in the Holy City who beg to be touched by us.
John 19:39-40 says, "Nicodemus . . . came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes . . . . They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices . . . ."
Friday, March 21, 2008
Lots of dancing, mostly to reggae music. The young man confined to a wheelchair rolled into the circle and danced with his upper body, spinning the wheelchair around and around.
Food and drink was available, but it seemed secondary to the general merriment.
Then we sat down for a rather unorthodox reading of the Megillah, the scroll of Esther, complete with funny skits. Just like in Esther 8:16, "The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor."
The custom of masquerading on the feast of Purim is an allusion to the fact that the miraculous salvation of the Jews of Persia some 2366 years ago is disguised in the garments of natural causes, luck, and coincidence. God's hand is hidden; his name is not mentioned even once in the Scroll of Esther.
The verses that speak to me most are Esther 4:14 and 4:16. Mordechai tries to convince Esther to risk her life to save her people and says, "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for just such a time as this?" Esther decides "Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish."
Chag Purim sameach -- happy Purim!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tomorrow the drama of the Church will be acted out in the Holy City, in one way or another.
Washing of the feet of the faithful performed by the superior of the monastery or the priest of the church. Eucharist as part of a seder-like meal. The stripping of the altar. And Tenebrae, ending in silence and near-darkness.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
On today's date, March 18, the good ship Enotria sailed into Haifa port, just as the sun was rising over Mount Carmel.
I disembarked, kissed the ground, and embarked on a new life.
I had never been to Israel except in my dreams, knew no one, had little money.
Fresh out of college, a 22-year-old idealist coming into an idealistic 19 year old country. Population just two million.
We both had a lot of growing up to do.
We have been together forty years.
This is the promised blessing. Thank you, God, for showing me the way home.
Monday, March 17, 2008
We were quite alone among the olive trees and the goats. Silence and peace all around.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Palm Sunday afternoon everyone gathers on the Mount of Olives and then begin a joyful procession all the way down to the Old City, entering the city walls through the Lions (St. Stephan's) Gate, and gathering again at the old Crusader church of St. Anne. En route there is singing and dancing and waving of palm fronds and olive branches. Oh, and lots of security.
My pictures from last year can be seen small on the slideshow or big at http://picasaweb.google.com/ponddina/ProcessionPalmSunday2007 .
And a link to the previous post's photos:
Last year on Palm Sunday I experienced all the colorful and diverse worship services of the many different faith communities within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The ancient church was packed with pilgrims. This year my claustrophobia got the better of me, and I chose to stay closer to home for this festive day.
Enjoy the slideshow. For bigger version of the photos you can go to http://picasaweb.google.com/ponddina/PalmSundayAtHolySepulchre2007
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
The new neighbors across the street are into permaculture.
Today their young helper built this fascinating garden spiral.
Can you believe, I had never seen such a thing (guess I've been away from Heifer Ranch too long); so I was all questions.
Here's what I learned.
This method combines many permaculture design principles. The base is rubble; this will give some air movement beneath the mound. The height of the raised bed and the placement of the stones create a range of niches and microclimates which can sustain many different kinds of plants.
This one might become an herb spiral. Come back later to see what's growing.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The rakefet is especially loved among our spring wildflowers, with her shy face turned earthward and her favorite growing place being under a rock. But these cyclamens took root INSIDE the high stone wall and can look out over the valley below.