Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On my way to Houston with Heavenly Ladder Bookstore

Here is a sampling of the incense that I will have with me from Mt. Athos; over 38 different scents. We are also bringing some great  icons by the score, our wonderful very fresh teas and tisanes, charcoals, cds, dvds, jewelry and numerous treasures.  Stop by and visit with us at the 2012 Parish Life Conference of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston (Westin Galleria Hotel in Uptown Houston)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Thoughts

Now that we have come to the end of the time that will be spend in Jordan there are some things that I want to talk about.  There are some very interesting sites, (Not to mention the modern city of Amman) on this tour.  I had no idea before I started researching the different locations on Fr. Ilya's tour of what an amazing place that area must have been at the time of Jesus.I am amazed by the huge cities that were so very elaborate and intricately centered in deep desert.  I am also amazed at the number of mosaic floors that are still intact.

As a side note, recently I was in San Francisco and at the Palace of the Legion of Honor and there was a wonderful exhibit of a mosaic floor.  This one was found in Lod, Israel during the digging of a planned road bed.  An archaeological group were called in and uncovered the floor.  They were able to remove the floor by rolling it up intact and lifting it out of the location.
A very interesting thing about this was underneath the floor the archaeologists found foot prints from, as I remember, a couple of different men, three women and two children.  What a picture that gives of how that mosaic was made sounding a lot like a family unit.
The detail on the floor was wonderful.  Fishes, animals and an amazing array of wildlife.  Beautiful.  I would love to see more of that kind of work taking one back centuries, very moving. Imagine what that would be like within the context of the building itself.  Better read here for more accurate information: http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/exhibitions/marvelous-menagerie-roman-mosaic-lod-israel

I was also interested in the records of Asiatic lions in the area. There were many around the Jordan River in particular.  Many of the stories of saints deal with interaction of different saints with lions.
St. Mary of Egypt and another St. Gerasimos of Jordan.  I love his story particularly.
St. Gerasimos came upon a lion that was in great pain.  He approached the lion and realized that the lion had a thorn in its paw.  He removed the thorn and the lion followed him home and began to live in the monastery with St. Gerasimos.  The brothers all thought if lion was going to live there was going to have to participate in the life of the community and he should have an obedience.  An obedience was given to the lion to take care of the monastery's donkey.
One day he was out with the donkey near the river Jordan.  The donkey was grazing and the lion felt very sleepy and gradually went to sleep.  A trader came along and saw the donkey and took him as he traveled along his way, thinking he was very fortunate to find a donkey.
When the lion woke up he realized the donkey was gone and he felt very sad that he had not kept his obedience.  He returned to the monastery with his his head hanging.  The brothers ran to him and asked him where the donkey was.  The lion continued to hang his head.  The brothers began to berate thinking that he had eaten the donkey. The lion was very sad.
Every day he would go to the Jordan and look for the donkey hoping to find him.  One day he saw the donkey in the train of the trader who had taken him as they traveled near the Jordan.  The lion roared as loud as he could and frighted the trader away.  Catching the donkey's lead rope in his jaws he took him back to the monastery.
The brothers were overcome and sorrowful that they had accused the lion wrongfully and the lion was restored in their eyes.

I know I have probably left out some of the details but I love stories of the early Church Fathers like this.
What amazing stories must come out of this country. What a lot of Christian history is available in Jordan.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Update on the tour to Jerusalem

I am not getting enough response on my end to continue working on the journaling focus of this projected trip to Jerusalem.  The nice thing is because we are in Fr. Ilya's travel program, he will continue to advertise the trip on his website minus the journaling aspect. So the trip is still on -  http://www.orthodoxtours.com/

I will continue to give an overview of the days in the journey to Jerusalem.  Please contact Fr. Ilya if you are interested in this tour.