A Christmas Greeting

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Merry Christmas

For the last three months or so, it has been very hard to for me to write my usual Friday blog post. What has been going on here in my country… a post modern war… has provoked thoughts and feelings that I’ve been unable to share with any but my closest friends who live here and understand the paradoxes that are part and parcel of coexistence with a hostile minority that takes advantage of all the many comforts of our free and modern society, while trying to destroy the state at the same time.

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Especially, because my view of how to deal with the situation differs from the policy of our government, and because I know that the ‘enemy’ is listening, I dare not discuss the issues while we are still at war. And I won’t hide the fact that what’s been happening on the streets of my beloved city cause me great pain and sadness. This too, limits my ability to express myself… to the extent that I didn’t even reply to the generous comments of my friends on my posts. Last week, I had intended to post an article about how I deal with this depression and sadness. But then there was another insane attack, and once again I was struck dumb. I just posted a picture I had composed during the week, and let it go at that.

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I see my lunch… how’re you doing?

This week too, there have been a number of news items that radically influenced my state of mind. Not just on the subject of the war. There were a number of subjects I could have discussed, had I been in a more positive mood. But unhappy as I felt, it seemed best to say nothing. I thought I’d just publish a photo I like to let my friends know that I’m still alive. But then, this morning, I looked at the calendar, and realized that it was Christmas day. Unexpectedly, I desired to send my heartfelt good wishes to my Christian friends for a very happy holiday.

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we see the spirit of creation in all nature

You know, I’ve spent some time in Europe, and in the Americas, where Christianity was the religion of the majority, in many of the places that I visited. And I was aware of certain characteristics that might be criticized, when the establishment is identified with religious morality. But this was half a century ago, and since then religion has become much less imposing, and many young people pay it no mind regardless of their cultural heritage. And that is even further complicated by the commercial abuse of the traditional holiday. But in my country, Christians are a small minority. And those I’ve gotten to know exemplify forbearance and modesty as well as a desire to do good deeds and act out their love for their fellow man. They remind me a bit of an animal who is native to our country, but seldom seen because he’s shy; the rock badger, of whom I’ve written on a number of occasions.

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cuddles from Jerusalem

Since my neighborhood is at the very edge of Jerusalem, rock badgers often come and visit. And when I go off to meditate or collect my thoughts in a park or nature preserve, and sit quietly for a length of time without moving, I have the opportunity to see them and watch as they relate to one another and to the wild life and lush vegetation in our fair city. They are exceptionally intelligent, and different members of their community have different roles to fulfill within the framework of their organized life. I am often amused at the thought that they are related to the elephants, for they are quite small, between the size of a cat and a dog, and have very small ears compared to those of an elephant. In any case, I’ve chosen to share some pictures of them together with my wishes for a Merry Christmas.

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81 responses to “A Christmas Greeting

  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year dear Shimon, I hope and wish much more peaceful days in the New Year. Thank you, love, nia

  2. Greetings from a little town in Canada.
    Thank you. Peace.
    Love, and may God bless.
    walt

    • Ah, peace is such a great blessing. Starting with peace within ourselves and moving out. Best wishes to you too, Walt. I’m imagining a snow covered landscape.

      • I agree Shimon. Peace within first. And many people are seeking this peace not realizing the personal burdens that they carry prevent that peace.
        Regarding the snow covered landscape. This year has been quite strange in terms of winter weather. Western Canada, and the north have a lot of snow, but where I live there has been no snow yet. However, the weather forecasters predict snow in the coming weeks.
        Love, peace and joy,
        walt

  3. Thank you so much for these generous Christmas good wishes. Peace to your heart and healing to your spirit, Shimon.

  4. Magnificent photographs! Thank you for introducing the rock badger to some of us who did not know it, this little guy looks most interesting and cute too. I sincerely hope for an improvement of the situation. At least the IDF has made remarkable efforts to limit the damage, I feel grateful for that. Shabbat shalom!

  5. How kind of you to reach out with Christmas wishes when your heart is so burdened, Shimon. I send them back to you with the prayer that the joy and pure love this holy day celebrates will comfort you and help to heal the world…

    • Thank you very much, Kitty. I pray for peace and clarity too. For we are all together in this world. dependent on one another for those things. Let’s hope that good will and peace will elevate all.

  6. Thanks for your wishes. I hope we see you back to your posts (because that will mean things are looking up).

    • I am trying, Olga. From a rational point of view, I think it is important that we go on with our lives… But on a personal level, it is a very difficult challenge. Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. I would never, in a million years, have guessed the relationship between the rock badgers and elephants. I watch for news and pray daily for Israel. Thank you for the kind wish. May you be blessed.

    • Thank you so much for your prayers, Judy. Yes, It is hard to see any similarity, but a genetic study has shown that this is so. And they are very fascinating animals. Especially their social network.

  8. Dear Shimon,
    I am constantly thinking of you and prayers for you and your whole family and for the Peace of Jerusalem.

  9. I love your photos of the rock badgers, Shimon. Thank you for this sweet Christmas gift. I send you wishes for peace and better days in the year to come.

  10. Thank you for this post, Shimon. Best wishes to you.

  11. Dear Shimon, so pleased to hear again from you, and that you are safe and well. I lived for many years in Ireland with the ever-present worry of violence. But for over 50 years I have lived in Scotland, quite peacefully. So I cannot understand how it feels to live under the constant threat of death.

    All I can wish for you is PEACE. This is taught by Judaism and my religion, Christianity. ……..so SHALOM to you and all your family and friends…

    • Thanks very much, Harry. I am happy for you that you’ve found a good home in a peaceful place. I have so much love for my home town Jerusalem, that I can’t imagine seeking asylum anywhere else. But it is a great challenge to be exposed to this madness. Thank you for your sweet wishes, my friend.

  12. The rock badgers are delightful. When I saw the first at the top of your post, I smiled. When i realized I had more to look forward to, I grinned.

    We don’t have rock badgers, but unless I’m mistaken, you’ve shown something we do share: the Cape Honeysuckle. Though not native to Texas, it thrives here, and is beautiful. I have three pots full, which are in desperate need of repotting come spring, but here’s a nice photo of one in bloom.

    The Talmud says that scholars enhance peace in the world. I’d say that, in this season of ambiguous peace, you’re doing your part.

    • Thanks very much for sharing that picture of the honeysuckle. I do love them. And love the rock badgers too. They work together in harmony, and have a unique social awareness. You should see the way their guards alert the community when someone approaches their camp. It is amazing. And what you remind us from the talmud is quite true. But unfortunately, there are many heartbroken talmudic scholars in Jerusalem right now.

  13. With sincere good wishes, I keep trying to imagine what you are going through and hope for better days ahead. I appreciate what you are telling us because I see startling signs that we are headed into the same situation.

    • Thanks very much, Jim. You know, I’ve seen quite a few wars in my lifetime… up close. But it is really startling to see this level of brain washing, and parents celebrate the deaths of their children for nothing… It is a very bitter experience, And I can only hope that other democratic societies will learn from what we are going through now. I regret to say, that I am quite pessimistic.

  14. My own voice has been rather silent of late, but that doesn’t translate to having empty thoughts or no regard for my fellow neighbors around the world. I believe that sometimes we are overwhelmed and feel powerless to even dream of a better circumstance, when we are constantly assaulted by the harsh realities of life. During those times, I try with all my might to allow at least some part of my focus to rest on that which is beautiful, and if I am quiet and still, and willing to look past all those painful reminders, the abundance is around me in every direction.

    The badger is an excellent example of resilience. I especially loved the first photo. Such a friendly face, from afar. Sending a smile your way, and a nod towards all that is beautiful in this world. Always good to hear from you, Shimon. Hugs, Nancy

    • I agree with you, my dear Nancy. It is so good to search out beauty at a time like this, and I do try from time to time, even though I’ve grown quite bitter at how twisted human beings can get; how popular evil can be at times. Some people, too far away to see what is going on, can actually cheer it on. So thanks for your friendship. Very good to hear from you. Here’s hoping that the time is near when we can discuss the pleasures of life.

  15. Love to you, Shimon. I so enjoyed the cuddles from Jerusalem. 🙂

  16. Thank you for the greetings and well-wishes, Shimon…and for the images of your curious badgers. They brought forth a smile from my otherwise somber self at reflecting on the trouble in your land. I hope a long-lasting peace returns quickly.

    • I too have hopes for a return to peace and tranquility. I know that you too, Scott, have seen some of the hard scenes of this life. But I tell you, watching young people get whipped up by incitement and lying propaganda, and giving up their lives in a storm of hatred is really depressing. It is hard to imagine parents encouraging such madness, but I see it every day. And still I hope. Thanks for your comment.

  17. Greetings from York, as I am at home for the holidays.
    I do hope that the coming year brings some respite from the trials & tribulations besetting both yourself and Jerusalem.
    David.

    • I have do much to thank you for, my dear David. You mentioned Robertson Davies in a previous comment, and I was happy to check out your hint. I had never heard of him before, but I do love fine literature. And you opened up a treasure for me. I have just finished reading the Deptford Trilogy, and enjoyed it very much. I have already found more of his books, and it is a great consolation for me to read such literature, at a time when madness has invaded my beloved city. Thank you so much. You have opened windows and doors for me.

  18. We pray (as Christians) every single day for there to be peace in your country. My heart breaks for what you go through over there on a daily basis. May this next year hold hope for you and yours…blessings from Canada.

    • Thank you from my heart, Linda. I am grateful for your support, and for the support of Canada, at this very trying time. One of the most painful experiences of going through this madness is seeing some good people in Europe who have become convinced by an irrelevant ‘narrative’, and interpret what is happening here as something else entirely. It has taught me how hard it is to understand things without studying the details and seeing it up close. But it is a consolation knowing that some do understand. Thank you for your blessings.

  19. Don’t worry about responding, Shimon, we would rather that you kept posting.

  20. Shimon,
    Your sentiments are heartfelt and loving. We who live in cities and countries that are not besieged with violence by barbaric factions, bent on destroying anything and everyone, cannot relate to the tremendous sadness that such violent expressions bring on.
    Suffice to say that were I to experience such atrocity, I must summon up the lion in me and pray for courage to endure. Your rock badgers remind me of meerkats…Go inside your mind and find refuge…or, if you have time, go see the new Star Wars movie which aptly reminds us of the evil force that strains those of us who worship good. Shalom from Arizona.

    • Thank you very much for your message of peace from Arizona. I visited that fine state some fifty years ago, and found certain areas that reminded me of my own country. I have found consolation and encouragement in reading and study. But being a witness to such madness brings on a terrible pessimism. My only hope is that peace and reason will return.

  21. To me, your Christmas greeting is extra special. Many thanks for the smiles you brought this day. Wishing you and your land peace.

    • Peace is our great hope, Frank. I remember when I was a young man, I noticed that the older folks would often wish me good health… and I wondered, because I took that for granted. Now that I’m old myself, I understand how important that blessing is. With peace, it is similar… hard to understand how precious it is, till one lacks that ingredient of life. Best wishes to you.

      • A wonderful analogy. You’ve reminded of encounters when someone asks “Wouldn’t it be great to be young again?” … and usually respond with, “And to be that stupid? No thanks.” I cherish the wisdom.

  22. Thanks for sharing. I never saw those rock badgers when in Israel. It is troubling times for sure- in the US and elsewhere too.

    • Though there are many rock badgers here in Israel, it’s a little hard to see them because they are so shy. But now that you’ve seen the pictures, I imagine you’ll search them out the next time you visit. Best wishes to you, Lisa.

  23. We live in ‘troubled’ times Shimon. I fully understand your reluctance to comment and we only have to recall the attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo to understand the reticence most have to express opinions in a forthright manner. As a parent of two with a son and daughter who both work in London and travel there on a daily basis I have an underlying feeling of concern for their safety although statistically the risk to them is very low.
    if one could see an end in sight one could have some optimism, but in the short term there is no ‘end.
    I wish, and I hope, that 2016 will be kinder to you Shimon and You are the person who springs to mind when I hear news from Jerusalem.

    • Thank you very much for your good wishes, Andy, and your understanding. Actually, the personal danger is not that great. From a statistical point of view, we don’t have much reason to worry. Traffic accidents might be more threatening. But seeing the madness, is what is so difficult for me. Seeing young people throwing away their lives for no reason except the lying incitement and propaganda that is dished out in volume. We are tempted at times to believe that this is an age of enlightenment. And then the barbarians come to town, and one realizes that democracy and cultural intercourse is only skin deep. It is hard to take.

  24. So lovely to see you posting Shimon You do have a tough situation. Thank you for your generosity of spirit. I fully echo Gilly’s sentiments.

    Your pictures bring back great memories for me.

    Xx

    • Thanks so much, menhir. I know you’ve spent time here in Israel and in Jerusalem. Have you ever had the opportunity to meet the rock badgers? Let’s hope that we’ll live to see man live in harmony and in peace, with respect for one another.

  25. How lovely to read a post from you. I do miss hearing from you and our little chats. The rock badgers are just beautiful, how odd that they are related to elephants. All the very best to you and yours Shimon. I hope things improve for you soon.xxx

    • Thank you so much, my dear Dina. I do treasure hearing from you, and yet, I’m struck dumb and have lost my voice most of the time, as I witness the hatred and madness that comes from our neighbors here. Usually, I am able to find my way in this world thanks to rationality. But the paradox of the human condition… this struggle between good and evil, which was the horror of my childhood, still tortures me in old age, and I am afraid I’ll never understand it or learn to live with it. Thank you for your good wishes, my dear friend. xxx

  26. what sweet little animals- thank you for sharing them.

    • Yes, I hope you get an opportunity to see them in action, Lisa Elisheva. Their strongest characteristic is their intelligence. It is really a pleasure to watch them.

  27. Shimon…this is such a lovely post even amongst your sadness ..I find how you write , your choices , your humanity , your authenticity of heart and mind , all of these Shimon are so very compelling …thank you so much ….love , megxxx

    • I am grateful for your friendship, Meg. When I was a young boy, I was filled with horror by scenes of the worst of humanity that left me scarred for life. Now in old age, I find it even harder to reconcile myself to the evil that accompanies us in this world. It is love and friendship alone that can console me, and give me the will to keep going. thank you. xxx

  28. May the spirit of peace visit your country soon. All the battles have to be so depressing to the soul. Glad you are still able to look for those little things, in the animals that surround you, to see a little bit of happiness.

    • It is strange… sometimes ridiculous, to find consolation in the beauty and the straightforward character of the animals. But at times like this, that is where I find my hope. Thank you so much, Bev, for your blessing.

  29. Good morning dear Shimon. I think of you each and every day and understand completely why you would feel a great sadness. As always, I love your words and images, and send you hopes and wishes for health, peace and much creativity during the new year to come.
    Janet. xxx

    • I know you understand me, my dear Janet. And it is at times like this, that friendship and love keep me going, even though I despair of the human condition. And truthfully, this despair just shames me. I don’t think that’s the right direction. Which is why I prefer not to voice my feelings most of the time during this terrible misadventure. Still, I miss my friends and sometimes poke my head out from behind the rock, to say hello. xxx

  30. Dear Shimon, I guess we all can’t imagine what you are going trough… We can only “feel” you deepest sorrow and pain scattered inside your posts, your comments. And there is nothing we can do to help you… or to help others in your same situation.
    I wish you to be strong, to keep up you mind toward a positive change… This type of craziness and absolute madness is going on since millenia. Humans doesn’t change. Sometimes I wander if humans deserve to be on this planet…
    May this find you in good health and strength to keep going, hugs
    🙂 Claudine

    • Thank you very much, Claudine for your good wishes and your understanding. Of course, that same thought has crossed my mind as well… whether human beings deserve to be here… And we can only hope that we won’t be wiped out by our own meanness. It does seem to be a constant challenge. Wishing all of us a very good new year, and may all your wishes for all living things, come into fruition. May it be a very sweet year for you too.

  31. Greetings to you, Shimon I’m thinking of you at this devastating time. The rock badgers are adorable I had never heard of them before – thank you for sharing – Emily

  32. I think about you often and wonder how you are doing. Although I can only imagine, I do imagine that the times are dangerous, both physically and mentally, in your part of the world. What anguish and despair you must feel daily, moment to moment.

    Know that you are thought of often and that my wish for the new year is that things improve significantly for you and your fellow countrymen.

    • Thanks so much for your good wishes, Corina. It is a difficult time right now, but I try to look for the more beautiful aspects of life around me. Wishing you too, a very good year.

  33. I am late to express my greetings to you, Shimon. You and your country are in my thoughts and prayers.

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