Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.... Bethlehem. Another day of travel to Bethlehem yielded some great photo opportunities. It was not very crowded because it was an Islamic holiday, Eid Al-Adha. Eid al-Adha commemorates the day the Ibraham (Abraham) was willing to sacrifice his son to Allah. Most of the shops and the souk was closed but the few places that were open where owned by Arab Christians. The Christian population is very small, about 12% according to stats from 2002. On Christmas Eve Bethlehem will be filled with Christian pilgrims to celebrate Jesus' birth. I'll be there with friends from the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem and worshipping at the Lutheran Christmas Church. So for now, enjoy Christmas in the Middle East!

Street scene. Probably wouldn't win the Christmas decoration contest.

Neither would this one.

Olive wood carving workshop at the Salesian Artistic Center.

Also at the Salesian Centre is a mother of pearl workshop. In practically every shop are olive wood and mother of pearl objects to buy from elaborate nativity sets to ornaments, keychains and necklaces.

At the centre students are brought in to learn the trade so that they can be self sustaining. After a two year trade program they go to work in the olive wood or mother of pearl factories.

Franciscan Monks walking up one of the streets to the Milk Grotto Church. The church is where they say Mary spilled a drop of her breast milk. Since thousands of women have come and offered prayers for fertility.

On top of the Milk Grotto is a modern chapel with this amazing stained glass window. The trees are actually on the outside of the windows.

As I was leaving a priest wanted to show me a room where he had hundreds of letters and pictures from women all around the world. Each one of them had infertility problems and, after visiting the grotto have conceived and had children.

Another wood workshop on Milk Grotto Street.

But, before I went into the olive wood store the owner invited me up on the rooftop for some amazing views of Bethlehem and the surrounding countryside.

You can see that the sky was getting a little funky.

And I turned around and saw this incredible cloud formation with sun behind it. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon.

These are completely untouched!!!
Why yes, I AM obsessed with candlelight.

Why do you ask??

An angel from an Armenian altar from inside of the Church of the Nativity.
A very sacred place, the grotto of the Church of the Nativity. This is where Jesus was born.
And, of course, Yassir Arafat, posthumously and Fateh wishes you a Merry Christmas. This banner is displayed on Manger Square.

On the way home once again. Good Night Bethlehem, rest peacefully.


hoppy said...

You write it, I'll design it.

Suzanne said...

Let's go!

Nan said...

what photos!!! thank you!