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Archive for September, 2010

One special moment of many in the Holy Land.

Camel at dawn

Dawn on Mount Sinai

My camel plods steadily up Mount Sinai in the dark. Her cushioned feet make a soft crunch on the ground as she steps deliberately up the path, one large foot at a time.

I am bundled in a warm fleece jacket against the crisp cold, sitting high up in my comfortable saddle. Holding securely to the worn, wooden pummel, I am accompanied by my moon shadow, riding up the mountain with me. My shadow and I are both sitting tall and easy in the saddle, breathing deeply the cold, fresh air. A slight odour of musty camel and camel dung drifts past on the light breeze. Overhead, the stars shine like brilliant jewels in the clear, dry night sky.

I hear the guttural grunts and grumbles of the camels, and the calls of the camel drivers behind me. A radio blares for a while, then is silenced. I feel alone with my camel on this dark, rocky mountain.

The camel takes a small mis-step and slips a little on the loose stones. I peer down a dark, steep precipice, but I am calm and trust my camel completely. I continue to feel the rhythm of her steady steps up, up, up the mountain. Imperceptively the black sky lightens and I can see into the dark crevasses. Somewhere a bird sings a pure, simple two-note song.

The grace that has brought me here, to this place, to open my heart to God, brings me to tears. And my heart overflows as God pours in all that I need to sustain me on my journey: life and beauty, joy and love, awe and wonder, gratitude and peace, courage and strength.

An hour later, we arrive at the summit at dawn. Suddenly the camel pitches back and forth, settling down onto her calloused joints to allow me to dismount. A little unsteady on the solid ground, I take a moment to find my land legs. Soon I am back to solid reality, two feet on the rocks, my heart singing as I watch the sun rise, knowing that I will carry home the strength of this mountain of God.

Seeker

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of God, to the Rock of Israel.      Isaiah 30:29

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View from Elijah's Plateau, The Sinai

I get so busy that sometimes I just need to stop everything and listen in silence. 

This is nothing new.

The Old Testament recounts how the prophet Elijah went to Horeb, the mount of God (which we call Mount Sinai) to find God. Elijah was old, tired, persecuted, discouraged.   “I alone am left,” he says, “and they are seeking my life.” 

And he did not find God in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the “sound of sheer silence.”  In that silence God gave him renewed hope, and new tasks. 

This is the view from Elijah’s Plateau on Mount Sinai where I had a chance to sit in silence for an hour and listen.  Luckily I don’t have Elijah’s problems.

Seeker

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

1 Kings 19:11-13

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Facebook afterlife

One of the first of my generation of university friends passed away a few months ago. It caused a shock wave of unreality in our circle as we came face to face with our mortality.

Our deceased friend’s Facebook profile lives on, popping up in my Facebook sidebar with prompts like “Reach out. Say hello.” And “Suggest friends for” every few days. 

At first it was sad, to see her picture and be reminded that she is no longer with us, released from the ravages of cancer by death.  Then it became a little disconcerting, like seeing a ghost popping up on my screen from time to time.  Eventually I clicked “ignore” and she stopped appearing, Banquo-like, when I viewed family vacation photos. 

sunset

When should the sun set on online profiles?

But the other day she appeared again in my newsfeed.  It was her birthday, and Facebook remembered.  And her daughter and friends sent her birthday messages for us all to read on her wall.

If we live forever in the hearts and memories of our loved ones, do we also live forever online?   

I wonder if it is healthy for us to continue to commune with these internet avatars?  Or is it better to kill them off, quickly, like pulling off a bandage, so that we can let their spirit go free? 

Is it fair to their memory to remember them this way – their unflattering Facebook photos, their ill-advised and mundane status updates, living on forever for their children to find years later during a Google search.

Seeker

 

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