Madonna and child, photographed through glass, Church of St. George, Madaba, Jordan.
Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad!
On this day of joy and remembrance, my prayers are for more enlightenment in this world: for more justice and less repression; for more hope and less fear and for compassion and care for those less fortunate. And no more walls; please, let's tear down all the walls; break apart the barriers; eclipse arbitrary borders. What unites us is more powerful than what divides us.
I also pray for grace and strength as we continue to face challenges and change, as well as for some small measure of peace in our hearts.
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King
Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the
one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and
have come to worship him."
"...and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it
stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star,
they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with
his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they
opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of
incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back
to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." - The Gift of the Magi, Matthew 2: 1-12, the Holy Bible.
Candles lit in prayer, St. George Church, Madaba, Jordan.
"...like a living hymn, written in light." - N.P. Willis
The lovely Se'lah of Necessary Room is hosting a ChristmasGift of Jewels. Today, Paris Parfait is offering an antique French book to a winner, chosen from a drawing on January 7. Stop by Se'lah's placeto enter to win the book, as well as great prizes from other bloggers.
"Look round and round...and see even here, upon a winter's day, how beautiful the shadows are! Alas! It is the nature of their kind to be so. The loveliest things in life...are but shadows and they come and go and change and fade away..." - Charles Dickens
Scroll down the page for more photos of Mount Nebo.
And my thanks to the talented Anahata Katkin for her lovely kudos about Paris Parfait! A big merci goes to my dear friend Vanessa, who told me about Anahata's post. Not only that, but Vanessa - she of the incredible art genius and brilliant imagination - has created banners for my new Etsy shop, coming soon. Merci bien!
The Brazen Serpent sculpture by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni at Mount Nebo, Jordan. It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness and the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Mount Nebo is believed to be the place where Moses first glimpsed the Promised Land. "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho." - Deuteronomy 34:1. According to Christian and Jewish
tradition, Moses was buried on this mountain. However, his
final resting place remains a mystery. Tradition also suggests the Prophet Jeremiah hid the tabernacle, as well as the Ark of the Covenant on Mount Nebo.
View of the Holy Land from Mount Nebo. On a clear day, you can see Jerusalem and Jericho.
Memorial stone near entranceway. When I lived in Jordan, we attended Easter sunrise services here.
A sculpture honouring Pope John Paul II's visit in 2000. Pope Benedict visited Mount Nebo in May 2009.
Mosaic floors uncovered in 20th-century excavations.
In 1933 at the highest point of the mountain, Syagha, the remains of a church and monastery were found. The church was built in the second
half of the 4th century to commemorate the place where Moses died. The church was enlarged late in the fifth century and rebuilt in 597. Six tombs have been discovered beneath the church's mosaic floors. Excavation of various structures currently are in progress.
My daughter Jordana in an unguarded moment, Amman, Jordan.
Happy birthday, Jordana! Here's to your first 25 years of love, fun, challenges, opportunities, travel, art and adventure. I hope your future shines even brighter, with endless possibilities for joy and inspiration.
My daughter Jordana has just opened an etsy shop, riveraurora. It features fun, colourful jewelry and stylish hair accessories for the trend-setters in your life. Won't you stop by to see what Jordana has been making in her spare time?
I can't wait to see the jewelry she creates, inspired by our recent trip to Jordan!
Pictured at left is a handsewn leather rosette hairclip. See more lovely items here.
Vintage Christmas ornaments at my Paris apartment.
He's done it again! The clever and talented Neil of Citizen of the Month is hosting his Fourth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. Go here to listen to songs, watch videos and view photos from bloggers.
1950s Royal typewriter and Pottery Barn reproduction phone on an 18th-century wine-tasting table.
I blame Lara Rossignol. It's her fault that I fell in love with her pink vintage typewriter, then scoured the internet to find a similar one. I was lucky to get this one, that's been reconditioned and repainted in that amazing Pepto-Bismol-like pink (which matches the carnation pink plates in my Fiestaware collection). The typewriter arrived last month - complete with its orginal case and magazine advertisement - after La Poste first delivered it to a French guy by mistake. I'm still trying to find time to type a letter!
Tune in this weekend to see photos of my high-tech work space.
Scroll down the page for an additional post today.
Rubbing on Dead Sea mud, known for its curative and restorative properties. At water's edge, clumps of salt accumulate, a natural pumice for one's feet.
Wading in the water (my daughter Jordana is at the center of this photo).
A practically-deserted swimming pool and fountain.
Silhouettes at sunset.
Jordana laughing as a camel stands up. It was her first time riding a camel since childhood. Those are flies buzzing around his head, thanks to the high temperature near the Dead Sea.
A guide keeps control of the reins, to prevent the camel from racing.
Jordana returns from her jaunt down the corniche.
Jordana preparing to dismount the camel.
On the way back to Amman, we stopped at this roadside produce stand. Our driver told the vendor, "We don't want to buy anything from you; we just want to take your picture." The seller happily agreed, posing for several photos with his son. This was in sharp contrast to another vendor down the road, who - the minute he saw my camera, before I had a chance to say a word - started shouting "No pictures! No pictures!" And he refused to sell anything to our driver.
Crates of tomatoes, directly from the farm.
The proud vendor shows off his fresh oranges. Our driver purchased two boxes of oranges and lemons.
The fruit-and-vegetable seller and his young sons pose for the camera.
The setting sun.
Check back later for photos of the Dead Sea shot from a fantastic panorama in the mountains. Scroll down the page to see other photos of Jordan, including the River Jordan and the baptismal site of Jesus Christ.
The River Jordan near the site where Jesus Christ was baptised.
The muddy waters of the River Jordan.
A portion of dry and cracked riverbed.
The bank of the River Jordan.
Mosaic at the site where Jesus Christ was baptised. Because the land near the Dead Sea historically has been the site of much conflict - including the 1967 War or Six Day War - landmines are still being discovered and detonated by specialists. One was detonated while we were standing at this location, resulting in a loud explosion. It helped bring home what it's like to live with conflict virtually on one's doorstep. Since the 1994 Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel, the site is no longer considered a military border zone. However, visitors to this area - including Pope Benedict - are led by licensed guides and restricted to specific paths.
Jesus Christ walked down these steps to be baptised by John the Baptist. According to the Bible, Matthew 3: 16-17, "As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.'"
In A.D. 570, Antoninus of Piacenza
noted, "By the site of the Jordan...where the Lord was baptised, at the
place where the water returned to its bed...marble steps descend into
Read more about other spiritual events believed to have occurred here.
View of a Coptic church from the bank of the River Jordan. Four other churches and a mosque are also under construction in the area.
The church bells, crosses and the Jordanian flag on an adjacent wing with arched windows.
Hand-carved seats and stained glass featuring crosses inside the church.
Ceiling mural of Jesus Christ and a brass chandelier.
Murals depicting scenes described in the Holy Bible.
High murals and domed ceiling.
See other photos of Jordan here, here and here, with many more to follow.
Give my friend Vanessa Valencia 15 minutes with this horse and buggy and she'd have it transformed into a magical gypsy caravan. She has a knack for taking simple things and creating something spectacular. She's also an artiste extraordinaire, with loads of talent. Several of her original paintings are now in Paris, in my own little Vanessa Valencia Gallery.
The Treasury became world-famous after its role in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
While I have visited Petra many times over the years, I always feel overwhelmed by its magnificent beauty and stunning light. On this visit, we arrived just after 6 a.m. and stayed until noon. The previous evening, we witnessed the sun setting over the mountains.
Shades of brown, peach and cream appear on the ceilings and columns of deep caves in Petra.
Gorgeous swirls of colour in natural rock formations.
My daughter Jordana is a blur of motion while climbing ancient steps in this vast former Nabatean city. Join us on a Journey to Jordan March 1 -8 and you can see the stunning Petra valley for yourself. Plus, you'll have the benefit of landscape photography instruction from Zohrab, Jordan's premier photographer. Zohrab is the author of ten photography books. He also was the personal photographer for the late King Hussein of Jordan.