As I listened to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on the radio yesterday, for the first time in my life I didn’t picture huts and palm trees like some cartoon Christmas TV special. I thought back to the actual Bethlehem in the West Bank which I visited in the Spring. The old stable of my imagination has been replaced by a drafty Byzantine basilica and the straw by Orthodox icons and lamps. The shepherds and wise men in the Bible story are now an equality diverse group of international visitors. But with all that, the Church of the Nativity still maintains some of the midnight atmosphere and anxious stillness of the first Christmas which is remembered here.
Posts tagged ‘pilgrimage’
Mont Saint-Michel has always seemed liked a mystic place. Totally isolated, the massive religious fortress seems to rise from the sea. Settled by a hermit saint in 8th century on a tidal rock, kings and commoners alike have sought out this place continually ever since. One of the most recognizable places in France and a UNESCO World Heritage site, you better believe I was going to spend some time exploring Mont Saint-Michel! So in the spirit of those medieval travelers who made the pilgrimage to the Romanesque Church of the Abbey crowning the mountain, here’s how I approached and climbed Mont Saint-Michel.
Our last day in Greece, we had a few hours to spare and a rental car so we decided to look for the ancient battlefield of Marathon. It was here in 490 BC that the Greeks defeated a Persian invasion force. After which a messenger ran the 24 miles back to Athens to declare the victory inspiring the modern marathon race.
This was the only time our GPS navigation failed us; apparently “Marathon Museum” was a little ambiguous! Having been directed to the Marathon Run Museum, we got dubious directions toward the ancient battlefield and set out. After several U-turns, we found ourselves traveling down a narrow road through a field where a crowd had gathered. I almost didn’t believe what we saw: ancient Greeks engaged in battle.