There is an old saying that “Perspective is everything.” There is a lot of truth to that old saw – no matter what the subject is. The way we see things, how we perceive them, can change based on new information, on experiences, on new wisdom and insight. I find myself that way during this special time of the year.
I have posted before numerous pictures from my trip to Israel at the end of July and early August of this year. It was an incredible experience – one I hope to be able to afford to repeat some time with my wife (I was there for work…and the ticket was paid for!!!)
As I think about the Nativity…and the other stories about the angel that visited Mary in Nazareth foretelling the birth of the Christ Child, I see things with fresh eyes because of my visit to those places. When I hear “Bethlehem” I can see the city in my minds’ eye from Jerusalem…off in the distance is the place of his birth. Of course it looks much different today than it would have then, but now I have a different perspective, a different frame of reference.
Today’s photo was taken in Nazareth inside the Church of the Annunciation. It is a picture of the grotto area beneath the main floor level of the church and it is reputed to be the location where Mary received the angel, Gabriel, and received word that she would be with child…but a very special Child. The altar is supposed to be the very location where Mary received her visitor. Is it accurate? Who knows? Probably not. But Nazareth was a small town and it had to be very close to this location.
As we move through this time of the year, I’ll share some other pictures taken in Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem…and perhaps it will help you see things differently this year. After all, perspective is everything.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1952, heavy smog began to hover over London, England. It persisted for four days, leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 people.
It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the west, the air over London became trapped in place. The problem was exacerbated by low temperatures, which caused residents to burn extra coal in their furnaces. The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the area’s industries along with that from cars and consumer energy usage caused extraordinarily heavy smog to smother the city. By the morning of December 5, there was a visible pall cast over hundreds of square miles.
The smog became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Eventually, all transportation in the region was halted, but not before the smog caused several rail accidents, including a collision between two trains near London Bridge. The worst effect of the smog, however, was the respiratory distress it caused in humans and animals, including difficulty breathing and the vomiting of phlegm. One of the first noted victims was a prize cow that suffocated on December 5. An unusually high number of people in the area, numbering in the thousands, died in their sleep that weekend.
It is difficult to calculate exactly how many deaths and injuries were caused by the smog. As with heat waves, experts compare death totals during the smog to the number of people who have died during the same period in previous years. The period between December 4 and December 8 saw such a marked increase in death in the London metropolitan area that the most conservative estimates place the death toll at 4,000, with some estimating that the smog killed as many as 8,000 people.
On December 9, the smog finally blew away. In the aftermath of this incident, the British government passed more stringent regulations on air pollution and encouraged people to stop using coal to hear their homes. Despite these measures, a similar smog 10 years later killed approximately 100 Londoners.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Garlic, a traditional vampire repellent, has been used as a form of protection for over 2,000 years. The ancient Egyptians believed garlic was a gift from God. In several cultures, brides carried garlic under their clothes for protection, and cloves of garlic were used to protect people from a wide range of illnesses. Modern-day scientists found that the oil in garlic, allicin, is a highly effective antibiotic. Aren’t you glad that brides don’t wear garlic under their wedding dresses today?