Bible stories at Christmas time make me ache to be back in the Holy Land.
Category Archives: places
While many Americans associate Marti Gras with beads, music and parades, my thoughts escape to misty cold Venice with its sea wind bobbing the gondolas and tunneling into Piazza San Marco where thousands gather to celebrate Martedi Grasso and walk among its ethereal masked revelers. Each time Victor and I boarded the 7am Eurostar train to Venice from Florence, we knew we were charging lens-first into a wild storm of people moving about looking in every direction but the one they were going. The most dangerous of the mob? The photographers, of course. Dozens upon dozens stacked on one another trying to get a shot of the graceful, airy, mannequin-like beings slowly floating their way through the square.
Because the revelers themselves were so hauntingly peaceful (I was always compelled to whisper when I thanked them), their serenity is seen in their photos. What’s not seen, however, is the throngs of people around them, as you can get a glimpse of in the skyline photo below. How was it done? Simple. Strapped with my two cameras, one loaded with slide film and the other with black-and-white film, I approached my beloved subjects in one of two ways: straight-on and tight, or low and wide. Sometimes I could shoot over the shoulder of another photographer to be at eye-level with my subject, and unfortunately the dozens of people behind them. In those cases, I’d shoot tight where they, and no one else, filled the frame. Usually, however, I couldn’t squeeze anywhere into the pack of puffy-coated paparazzi, so I would creep beneath the lowest lens, plant myself in front of everyone, scusatemi, and shoot upwards towards my subject. This was my preferred position. By shooting from below, I could cut out from my view the people behind my subjects and use the sky, or better yet, exquisite architecture as my background. Where in reality, the scene was of me squatting with the knees and the weight of ten or twenty photographers on my back and the subject surrounded by crowds of people, the images on the slides were of pristine doll-like figures, their longing gazes and beautiful Venice behind them. This is the Martedi Grasso that I know and love and miss. Until next time… I’ll be sure to pack my knee pads.
The annual Christmas message given by Pope Benedict XVI today drew attention to the importance of this day and his words below struck a chord with me, as it reminded me of conversations I’ve had with some of my Christian girlfriends about the challenge of maintaining a focus (particularly with their children) on the historical, Biblical and, above all, spiritual significance of Christmas while constantly being bombarded by commercialism. The Pope stated:
”Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light… Let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals Himself to the simple of heart…”
So in honor of this message of remembrance, I’ve selected a few images of Nazareth, the Biblical town I was fortunate enough to visit a number of times while living an hour away in Haifa. Among the places shown are:
The Basilica of the Annunciation – built over the grotto where, according to the Roman Catholic tradition, the angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become of the mother of Jesus,
A Woman Clothed with the Sun – the sculpture in the Basilica of the Annunciation created by American sculptor Charles L. Madden, inspired by the quote, “The grandeur of God… will flame out, like shining from shook foil.”
The Church of St. Joseph – built on the carpentry shop of Joseph,
The Synagogue Church – where Jesus preached (Luke 4:16) and
Mary’s well – where, according to other traditions, the Annunciation took place.
Enjoy this visit to Nazareth and Merry Christmas!
I suppose since today marks one year since I left Haifa and settled in Oklahoma I can’t really say, “I just moved back,” as much as it still feels like it. By now I was sure to have already culled through my catalogue of (literally) hundreds of thousands of images from living abroad for 11 years, created albums for my children to remember where they were born and raised, compiled educational exhibits, and published charming coffee-table books that showcase fascinating places of historical, archeological, and religious significance. A girl can dream, right?
One thing I will do, and start today on this anniversary (because I am that sentimental), is open a section of my blog dedicated to places that I love. The title and starting point are yet to be determined, but in the meantime, I can offer a glimpse of what’s to come: from Turkish mosques to Florentine streets; life-like sculptures and porcelain people. Their stories will come, bit by bit, and by one year from today, the scores of images will have done a little more than collect digital dust. (: