Saturday, 18 December 2010

O Adonai

A late afternoon walk in the snow, plus yesterday's ski outing gave me enough fresh air and exercise for ten hours relaxed sleep, waking up just as the sun was striving to clear the thin clouds from peaks across the valley. Instead of evaporating away, low down mist precipitated in a fine crystalline powder as the sun warmed the air, as the outside temperature was minus fourteen. Just enough to whiten tree branches which lost their snow cover to the sun days ago.

Today's Advent antiphon is the Hebrew for Lord / Master, used to address the almighty in prayer, to acknowledge divine power and sovereignty. The word first appears in the story of Moses and the burning bush. Adoni, the root of the word, comes from the Phoenician term used to address their deity Tammuz as  'Lord'. It was also re-used by the Greeks in the name of the deity Adonis, beloved of Venus, and also appears in other ancient Eastern Mediterranean religious cults. Sea-faring Phoenicians were great exporters of their culture.  One intriguing historical reference places the cave Jesus was said to be born in (where the Bethlehem church of the nativity was built) on the site of an ancient sanctuary to Adonis-Tammuz. 

Religions then didn't so much compete with each other as they borrowed from each other's language, stories, sacred places, rituals and symbols in expressing their ever evolving relationships to the divine and each other. Syncretism can be used as a term of disrepute in relation to religious practices, whereas in reality it's what all human beings do, unless they are insecure enough to strive to prove themselves exceptional and 'pure' in zeal and devotion.
O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

This word expressing the reverence and loving devotion proper to our relationship with God, appeals to the almighty to deal with us in our great need with the infinitely greater power of devoted love that belongs to the author of our being. It expresses that ultimate trust that gives life its true vitality.


Rachel and Clare went to a breakfast time pyjama party this morning, leaving me to enjoy a quiet ponder. When they returned, Clare and I  went together down to the end of the fairway and back- she on snow shoes, me on skis. Mid-afternoon, Rachel and I went out together for a brief spell. She on the skis that used to belong to her mum. She pointed out that birds I thought were indigenous crows were actually woodpeckers. We saw several, in the same vicinity and I photographed one of them at twenty yards, resplendent like a Roman Cardinal with scarlet cap, white neck band and black body.

As Jasmine was spending the afternoon with a playmate, we were able to drive up to the Fairmont Hot Springs holiday resort, and spend an hour in the thermal baths. Hot water gushes out of the mountain around here - there's even a hot waterfall. The air temperature up there at about 1,100 metres was minus twelve, and the water a comforting twenty eight degrees. Well appointed changing rooms apart, the forty yard walk down to the pools was in the open air, not down a covered passageway. Cold enough for ice warnings to be posted. It's a popular venue with locals as well as visitors. In the water Rachel met and introduced us to one of her voluntary fire fighter colleagues whose day job is piloting passenger jets for Air Canada out of Vancouver. He loves it so much out here that he prefers to commute from local Cranbrook Airport to his duties than to live closer to the job.

When we got home, Rachel cooked and we went off to collect Jasmine from her playmates' house. There, I learned that the Windermere Lake Nordic 22km perimeter ski trail on the ice is now open. That's something to look forward to in the coming weeks, as I rebuild my stamina for an unique sort of ski trek I've never done before.

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