Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

The Virgin Mary and the Ghent Altarpiece

This beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary is part of the Ghent Altarpiece created by the well-known Flemish painter, Jan Van Eyck, in 1432. Rich in exquisite color and detail, the painting shows Mary holding a girdle book and represents her attribution as the “Seat of Wisdom.” Girdle books were popular between the 13th and 16th centuries and worn as accessories. A long piece of leather hanging from the book made it possible to secure the book to a garment by means of looping it over the girdle belt. It was then easy to pick up the book and read it whenever the desire hit the owner. Girdle books were popular among monks, clergymen, and aristocrats. Here, Mary is portrayed as an aristocratic woman and represents her role as “Queen of Heaven.”

The Latin inscription reads: “She is more beautiful than the sun and the army of the stars; compared to the light she is superior. She is truly the reflection of eternal light and a spotless mirror of God.”


Dawn Pisturino

January 20, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Fat Buddha

(Buddha as a fat bald man)

Fat Buddha does not depict Buddha at all but a 10th century Chinese Zen monk named Pinyin (also known as Budai or Pu-Tai). He was a good-natured man who loved children and spread love and goodwill wherever he went (kind of like Santa Claus). Because of these attributes, he was believed to be a future Buddha — or Maitreya. His roly-poly physique and fun-loving personality earned him the nickname, “Laughing Buddha.”

Buddhists adopted Pinyin’s characteristics as desirable Buddhist qualities and began to erect statues of him in front of Buddhist temples. Soon, visitors began rubbing his big, round belly as a sign of good luck. His laughing face made believers smile. Many people now keep a small figurine of Fat Buddha in their homes to bring them success, prosperity, and happiness.

In addition, Fat Buddha represents abundance, spiritual fulfillment, and enjoyment of life. Suffering is a state of mind that humans can overcome by accepting life and all that it brings.

Dawn Pisturino

January 26, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

12 Comments »

When Krishna Plays His Flute

When Krishna plays his flute, all of life stops, frozen into silence and immobility by the wondrous beauty of the music. Even the rivers and streams stop flowing, or flow backwards, as all of nature absorbs the astounding mystical quality of his presence. The whole universe responds with ecstasy and joy. The cow girls (Gopis) fall in love with Krishna all over again. Life itself renews, growing fuller and greener and more resplendent with vigor and energy. Flowers appear more fragrant and lush.

Krishna represents Divine Love. His flute represents the human heart. When the heart is empty, like the flute, it is receptive to Krishna’s Divine Love. And when Krishna plays his flute, the whole universe is filled with his Divine Love. 

Dawn Pisturino

January 20, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

8 Comments »

Coyote Spirit

In Navajo culture, Coyote is an “ancient deity” — essential to maintaining the order, balance, and harmony of the world. He is the creative force that created the world and provided the first humans with the basic essentials of food, plants, medicine, animals, fire, and light. As a multi-dimensional character, he is both good and evil; human and god; unpredictable and ambivalent — traveling easily between the human, animal, and sacred worlds.

Coyote is the embodiment of human consciousness and the reservoir for all knowledge. As the original sacred Being, he initiated chaos and death, disrupted the positioning of the stars, and acted to ensure the survival of the human race.

As the trickster, his adventures test the boundaries of the cosmic order, reaffirm the harmony of the world, and expand the possibilities for human interventions and activities in the world. His characteristics of egoism, greed, excessive sexual lust, gluttony, rudeness, interference, and unrestrained curiosity, playfulness, and restlessness mirror his human counterparts. He is intelligent, perceptive, adaptable, flexible, and cunning, all characteristics necessary for survival. Coyote trickster stories are told to children and adults alike to impart important moral lessons.

When the Navajo depended on hunting, Coyote was the powerful, positive impetus that brought success in war, hunting, and running. But when agriculture became the main means of subsistence, Coyote became an evil force that prowled around in the darkness of night, destroying crops and livestock.

Coyoteway is an ancient healing ceremony that is sometimes performed by Shamans to heal illness. While Coyote is capable of healing disease, he is also the one who sends disease when the Coyote People (coyotes, foxes, and wolves) are displeased.

The most frightening entities in Navajo culture are the Skinwalkers — witches who pray to Coyote, shapeshift into coyotes, and enchant people by throwing coyote skins over them. In this regard, Coyote is considered a negative and evil entity. On the other hand, Coyote sends helpful messages to humans through dreams, omens, and signs. His malleable nature allows him to align himself with both good and evil forces.

~

The Coyote and the Giant

“Once a giant was terrorizing the land, and eating people, especially small children. Coyote convinced the giant that if he allowed Coyote to break his leg and then heal it by spitting on it, he would be able to run as fast as Coyote. However, this was one of Coyote’s tricks, and the giant thereafter found it much more difficult to outrun anything, even small children.” ( from Coyote Stories of the Navajo People, 1974)

In this story, Coyote uses his tricks to help humans and becomes a hero.

According to Coyote storytellers in the Navajo tribe, Coyote stories can only be told during the winter, from October to February.

Coyote Superstition

A coyote traveling in any direction but north that crosses your path can be a good omen. However, many Navajos believe that ANY coyote crossing your path means trouble ahead. Beware of the trickster!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

13 Comments »

God is Great – a Short Story

Pixabay/WEBSI

(NOTE: Fear and misunderstanding occur any time two cultures come together and clash. I tried to show that in this short story. No offense was intended to any culture or religion.)

~

The sand was blowing so hard against the windshield, he could barely see where he was going. Catching a glimpse of white at the side of the road, he cautiously turned the SUV onto the rough, sand-blown driveway of a small combination gas station and convenience store. He parked in front of the store, uncomfortably aware of the bright neon beer signs in the window. Turning off the engine, he leaned back in the seat, listening to the howling wind as the vehicle rocked gently back and forth.

“Well, that’s it,” he said quietly, looking anxiously at his wife. “We’ll have to wait out the storm. Insh’allah – God willing – it will pass quickly.” He reached over and squeezed her hand reassuringly.

She gave him a forced smile, her beautiful dark eyes marred with worry. The baby stirred in the infant seat behind her and began to cry.

“He’s hungry,” she said, unbuckled her seat belt, and turned around to check on the fussy infant. “He needs to be changed.”

The other child in the back seat, a boy of five with sleepy black eyes and a mop of thick black hair, leaned dully against the window, thumb in mouth, unmindful of the blowing hot sand. The woman placed a hand on his forehead.

“He’s still hot,” she said to her husband.

“He needs medicine,” he answered, looking at his watch. “Let’s go inside. We’ll take care of the children in there. It’s already 1:00. We can spread our prayer rugs on the floor and give thanks to Allah for guiding us to this place.”

His wife nodded obediently and pulled her black dupatta closer around her face.

* * *

“Hey, Roy, look at that!”

Blanche Carter suddenly perked up behind the cash register and nodded her permed gray head in the direction of the front door. The beer-belly cowboy leaning lazily against the counter lifted the brim of his black cowboy hat and turned to look.

“What the heck!” he exclaimed, rising to his full six feet.

“Roy,” the cashier said in a low voice. “Do you still have that gun on ya?”

He peeled back the left side of his black leather vest to show her a stiff leather gun holster nestled under his armpit. With his right hand, he unsnapped the top, giving him free access to the small handgun, if the need arose.

“Don’t worry, Blanche,” he grinned. “You’e safe with me.”

“Thank God,” she said gratefully.

They watched intently as a little man with dark skin and hair wrestled with the heavy glass door, making the cowbells hanging from the handle clang furiously. Behind him, the wind tore fiercely at a small woman draped head-to-toe in black. The man held the door open against the wind, and the woman stumbled inside, her black robes flapping, her face nearly invisible in the black folds. A loud wailing competed with the howling wind, and the woman threw back her complicated drapery to reveal an infant carrier heavily swathed with blankets, a blue diaper bag slung over one shoulder, and a small boy clinging desperately to her skirts.

Blanche narrowed her eyes at the spectacle, clenching her jaw and fists. Resisting the urge to spit on the floor, she glared at the woman angrily, feeling a thick wall of resistance rise between them.

As the dark little man cautiously approached the counter, she saw that he carried what looked like a bundle of rugs under one arm and a wicker picnic basket under the other.

“Good day, ma’am . . . sir . . .” he said politely, bowing his head, fear betrayed in his large dark eyes. “If you please, I need some liquid medicine for my son.”

Blanche waited silently for Roy to respond. She was aware that he shifted his weight slightly to create a solid barrier between her and the timid little man. A large American flag was embroidered on the back of his vest, the familiar image giving her hope and comfort. Roy was a proud American, even if he did whore around and drink too much, and he would handle the situation the way he saw fit.

“Over there,” Roy said gruffly, waving his hand to the right.

“Thank you, sir,” the little man said. “I am most grateful. Alhamdu lillah – praise be to God – for your kindness.”

Roy said nothing. But Blanche saw his body stiffen and the whiteness of his big, flabby hands as they curled tightly into fists.

Blanche wanted to scream, Get your stuff and get out! But she was afraid they would complain to the owner of the store, and she would lose her job. It was the only job available for miles around, and she couldn’t afford to lose it. Most of the desert rats around there who bothered to work a steady job commuted to Phoenix. But Blanche was too old and tired to make that long, hot journey every day. She bit her lip and glared, feeling hostile and afraid.

But it don’t make it right, she fumed bitterly. These furriners come to this here country takin’ good jobs away from law-abidin’ Americans — and we jes’ have to put up with it! The government don’t do nothin’. The country’s goin’ down the tubes anyway. That money-grubbin’ TV evangelist, Graham Robertson, is right — the end times are here, and Jesus is comin’! Won’t that be a blast! He’ll give these heathens a run fer their money. Praise be to God! Ain’t He great?

A picture of global disaster — vividly described in the Book of Revelations — filled her limited imagination. She clearly saw the destruction of the world, the cries of the damned, the end of Israel and the Middle East. But what did she care? She attended services every Sunday at Reverend Boyd’s home (there wasn’t enough money in the collection plate to build a church), fervently believed in Jesus as the true Savior of the world, and diligently read her Bible every day. She was one of The Saved!

When the Rapture comes, she thought with satisfaction, I’ll be carried up to Heaven on the wings of a dove with all the rest of The Elect. I won’t even be here when Armageddon comes! Lord Jesus, do your stuff!

She cackled suddenly with glee. “Hey, Roy, lighten up a little and show the man where the medicine is.”

Roy turned and glared at her. What the heck? his eyes said.

Blanche smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s good customer service.”

  • * * *

Ayesha looked at the big fat man with the black cowboy hat, faded blue jeans, and pointed cowboy boots and trembled with fear. This man is dangerous, she thought. Please, Allah, protect us from harm!

She felt the intense hostility emanating like a deadly radiation from the wrinkled up, gray-haired old woman behind the cash register, but she had felt that before from similar women in other parts of Arizona. She knew it originated from fear, and she expected it.

But the man was something different. He looked at her husband with hard, dark eyes — pig eyes, she thought — and he was so big! He dwarfed her husband, making Mahmood appear small and helpless. A terrible sense of foreboding seized her. They were so alone and vulnerable in this desolate pig-sty of a town. Was there even a town? Or was this all?

She wished they had never come on this trip. They could’ve spent the weekend at home, safe, sound, and secure. But Mahmood was feeling restless after being on call all week at the hospital and wanted to get away for the weekend. Let’s do something fun, he had pleaded, convincing her with boyish black eyes lit up with excitement. He worked so hard and was such a good provider, she couldn’t turn him down. So they had booked a room at a fancy hotel and spa in Phoenix and started out early in the morning.

The wind was blowing even then, but not like now! The last few miles had been torture, Mahmood driving at a snail’s pace, trying desperately to follow the broken yellow lines in the center of the road and the solid white line at the edge. They had stopped several times along the way and waited for the hot, sandy wind to abate. But it only seemed to grow worse.

Ayesha was afraid, but she kept her feelings to herself. The baby had slept most of the way, and five-year-old Akbar, who was usually so energetic, seemed to droop in the back seat. She finally realized that he was sick. He looked at her with glazed eyes, oblivious to the fearful wind, and finally fell asleep with his chin hanging down on his chest. When she touched his forehead with her hand, it felt hot and damp. The poor boy was sweating despite the air conditioning inside the SUV. Ayesha was worried.

The big fat cowboy moved now, scowling as he showed Mahmood the display of cold medicines, allergy tablets, boxes of generic headache pills, and bottles of liquid medicine. Mahmood chose the appropriate bottle, thanked the big fat man, and headed for the counter.

Ayesha relaxed a little when the old woman smiled at Mahmood and cheerfully rang up the purchase. She spied the restroom sign on the wall and carried the infant into the women’s bathroom, her older son trailing close behind.

  • * * *

Roy stroked the rough stubble on his chin and shook his head in disbelief. What the heck has gotten into Blanche? He knew she resented these foreign intruders as much as he did. But suddenly, she had decided to be POLITE and SERVE them! Was she just afraid? Hadn’t he reassured her that he would handle any trouble that came up? Obviously, she didn’t believe him. Did she think he was just another ordinary American kow-towing to these vermin who were infesting his beloved country while the government stood by and did nothing? He would show her, alright! He might be the last of a dying breed, but he would go down fighting — just like his brother did in Desert Storm.

He had been mighty proud of his brother Eddie for joining the Army and going off to the Gulf to kick Saddam Hussein’s rotten behind. He had even been proud when his brother came home in a body bag. After all, he had died bravely in battle and would receive a Purple Heart. Roy’s heart had nearly bust wide open in his chest, he was so proud. But when President Bush Senior had pulled back the troops and ended the war before finishing their God-given job to destroy that monster Saddam Hussein, he had raged with fury, going so far as to beat his wife Gladys black and blue. She had left him not long after that, fearing for her life, and he had raged even more, going on a drunken spree that lasted two weeks.

When he woke up finally in a detox unit in Phoenix, he had vowed not only to straighten himself out, temporarily, but to hate the American government that had betrayed his brother and all the other soldiers who had given their lives in the Gulf War.

After his release from the detox unit, Roy contacted all his neighbors and formed The People’s Militia. They erected a rustic shooting range in the isolated wash way back in the hills, where they met every Saturday morning for target practice. Beneath the floorboards of an abandoned barn, they constructed an underground bunker, where they were slowly gathering quite a stockpile of water, food, explosives, firearms, and ammunition. He had learned how to do this from some Mormons down in Showlow, who were preparing for the end of the world. But Roy and his gang had already agreed to begin their own reign of terror if the government didn’t get its act together. They would call themselves the Warriors of Allah and blame their crimes on the large Arab population in Phoenix. The whole idea had belonged to Jed Turlock. Now who would have thought that a grizzly old man like Jed could come up with such a brilliant idea?

  • * * *

Mahmood spread the small woolen prayer rugs, bearing woven images of the Ka’ba in Mecca, onto the hard linoleum floor in front of the cooler containing gallon jugs of milk, quart bottles of orange juice, boxes of butter, and packages of cheese. He hurried to the men’s restroom to perform the ritual ablutions, which involved purifying various parts of the body with water, then returned to wait for his wife to finish breast-feeding the baby and toileting the eldest boy, Akbar. He removed his shoes and knelt down on a prayer rug to give thanks to God.

His wife Ayesha presently returned with the children. The baby was quiet now, and she placed the infant carrier on the floor in front of a prayer rug, where she could keep a watchful eye. She measured out a dose of liquid medicine into the small plastic cup attached to the top of the medicine bottle, managed to get it into the elder boy, removed his shoes, and encouraged him to lie down on one of the rugs to take a nap. Then she removed her own simple shoes and stood quietly, waiting for her husband to begin the prayers.

He stood up and cupped both hands behind his ears, crying, “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great!) Then, crossing his arms across his chest, he proceeded to chant, the sacred Arabic words rolling with melodic harmony out of his mouth. His wife mimicked his motions but remained silent.

Bismillah-i-Rahman-ir-Raheem.” (In the name of God, the Benevolent, the Merciful.)

Alhamdu-lillah-i-Rabbil’aalameen-ar-Rahman-ir-Rahim . . .” (Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe, the Benevolent, the Merciful . . .)

  • * * *

Blanche couldn’t believe her ears. Horrified by the sounds of heathens performing pagan prayers on Christian territory, she motioned to Roy to sneak around to the back of the store and stand guard at the end of the aisle. Fascinated by this strange turn of events, she adjusted the security camera so that it pointed directly down on the devout couple. She wanted to act as witness against their treacherous performance and capture them on tape.

Qul hu-Allahu Ahad, Allahu-Samad . . .” (Say: He is Allah, the One — Allah, the eternal . . .) The dark little man chanted loudly and earnestly with poetic rhythm, pouring his heart out to heaven.

Blanche was about to spew out her indignation when the musical chanting seemed to capture her soul, calming her turbulent spirits. She kept her eyes glued to the video monitor, listening intently, not understanding the ancient Arabic words, but responding to their holy sound, mesmerized by the rhythmic chant.

  • * * *

What kind of voodoo is this, Roy muttered silently to himself as he followed Blanche’s prompting and strode quietly to the rear of the store. He mentally stuffed his ears with cotton, refusing to listen to the foreign mumbo jumbo. After all, who knew what hexes and curses these people could place on him and Blanche? Everybody knew they had spread their religion across Asia and parts of Europe with the sword. Maybe now, with Saddam Hussein dead and Osama bin Laden on the run, they were resorting to witchcraft. Anything was possible, right?

He planted himself in the center of the aisle and watched from behind as the man and woman bent forward at the waist, placing their hands on their knees.

Subhana Rabbiyal-Azeem!” (How glorious is God, the Great!)

Roy sucked in his breath as reverently, deliberately, the man and woman continued their prayers, then fell humbly to their knees and prostrated themselves across their prayer rugs, their heads touching the ground.

Subhana Rabbiyal-a’la.” (All glory be to God, the Most High.)

Roy’s muscles tensed, and his stomach twisted, making him want to puke. He felt the waves of bitter anger rise up into his throat. He covered his ears with his hands, squeezed his eyes shut, and silently pleaded, Please, God, make it stop!

Then he turned to Blanche and hissed, “Make them stop, Blanche, make them stop!” But she only ignored him, spellbound, her eyes glued to the video monitor, her face shining, her eyes serene and far away.

They’ve got Blanche, he thought frantically. He took a step forward and shouted, “Stop!” But they only ignored him and began the sequence of prayer all over again.

Allahu Akbar!

Once more, Roy covered his ears with his hands, the fear and anxiety growing steadily inside him, making his heart race and his head pound. He saw his brother’s face in his mind, heard his voice in his ears, remembered the casket draped with an American flag lowered into the ground.

He died for his country, his mother said softly, wiping away the tears from her eyes. He was so brave!

He died for nothing! Roy shouted inside. Here’s the proof!

Qul a’oothoo bi rabbin nas . . .” (Say: I seek refuge in the Sustainer of Mankind . . .)

Roy thought of his brother rotting in the grave, a formless mass of flesh and bones, gone forever — and the family he had left behind. His beautiful, faithful wife, who had cried on Roy’s shoulder at the funeral. The pretty little girl with blonde pigtails who had grown up bitter and destroyed herself with drugs. The baby boy raised without a father who had run off to San Francisco at the age of sixteen, declaring himself gay.

Allahu Akbar!

More bowing at the waist. Roy slipped his right hand inside his vest and fingered the smooth end of the handgun under his arm. This is my country, he silently declared. And my God is the only god.

The man and his wife were kneeling again, ready to fall forward on the ground. Slowly, ever so slowly, Roy drew the shiny handgun from its holster and pointed it at the dark-skinned little man lying prostrate on the ground. As the man raised himself again to a kneeling position, Roy aimed the pistol at the back of the little man’s head.

Allahu Akbar!”

With a steady hand, Roy concentrated hard and slowly began to squeeze the trigger. But suddenly, clang! The cowbells hanging on the front door began to loudly ring as the heavy glass door burst open and the local sheriff came through the door.

“Thank God that wind has stopped,” he exclaimed, brushing the sand from his uniform. “Blanche! Where the heck are you?”

Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatu’ allah.” (The peace and mercy of Allah be upon you.)

Startled, Roy lowered the gun and shoved it quickly back into its holster. He saw Blanche shake her head, wake up from her reverie, and tear herself away from the video monitor.

“Did you say the storm was over?” she asked blankly.

“See for yourself,” the sheriff said. “How about filling up my thermos with hot coffee?”

“Right away.”

Roy headed for the men’s restroom, his hands shaking, his legs weak and wobbly. My God, he thought in horror, nearly wetting his pants. My God, my God, what was I about to do?

  • * * *

Insh’allah, the storm is over,” Mahmood said with relief, rolling up his prayer rug.

“I’m so happy!” Ayesha said, giving him a big grin. She roused the older boy from his nap and felt his forehead. It was cool and dry. “Everything will be okay now. Allahu Akbar!

Dawn Pisturino

October 31, 2007

Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

15 Comments »

World Prayers for Peace

(Krishna plays his flute)

Hindu Prayer for Peace

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real.

Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.

Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.

O Lord God Almighty, may there be peace in Celestial regions.

May there be peace on earth.

May the waters be appeasing.

May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and plants bring peace to all.

May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.

May thy Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world.

May all things be a source of peace to us.

And may thy peace itself bestow peace on all.

And may that peace come to me also.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Om.

~

Buddhist Metta Prayer

May all beings be peaceful.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be safe.

May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.

May all beings be free.

~

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

A Jewish Prayer for Peace

Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High.

And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.

And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

~

Muslim Prayer for Peace

O God! O our master!

You are eternal life and everlasting peace by Your essence and attributes.

The everlasting peace is from You and it returns to You.

O our Sustainer!

Grant us the life of true peace and usher us into the abode of peace.

O Glorious and Bounteous One!

You are blessed and sublime.
~

(Sitarist Ravi Shankar’s Aman Manch (National Peace Forum) performed by Anoushka Shankar (daughter)

Peace be with you all!

Dawn Pisturino

January 18, 2022

20 Comments »

My Christmas Prayer – a Poem

by Dawn Pisturino

May I never lose the Joy of Christmas,

Though my Tree of Life grows withered and rots,

Standing stark and gaunt in the cold winter light:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Joy of Christmas.


May I never lose the Love of Christmas,

Though my heart grows feeble and weak,

Beating like a broken drum in my chest:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Love of Christmas.


May I never lose the Meaning of Christmas,

Though the shadow of Death hovers over me,

Drawing farther away from the Circle of Life:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Meaning of Christmas.

Dawn Pisturino
December 4, 1986; December 24, 2021


MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Copyright 1986-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

St. Thomas the Apostle and the Three Wise Men

The Gospel of Matthew recounts how the Three Wise Men followed the Star of Bethlehem to the Christ Child in the manger, worshiped Him, and brought Him gifts. Then they left, feeling it wiser to bypass King Herod and his murderous intentions. 

Matthew 2:1-12:

 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

~

Later stories in the apocrypha elaborate on this account. The Three Wise Men meet St. Thomas the Apostle, who baptizes them as Christians, gives them the Eucharist, and sends them out into the world to spread the message of Christ as his disciples.

During the baptismal ceremony, St. Thomas recites this prayer:

“We praise you, O mystery of salvation,

which was given to us in oil by grace for anointing. 

Glory to you, O hidden mystery,

which was given to us in oil by grace for salvation,

for anointing. 

Glory to you, O hidden mystery,

which was given to us in oil for salvation and

and absolution.

 And by it (you) enlighten us and drive away

 darkness and error from us.

And again, by its mystery the athletes of the contest 

defeat their enemies.

Glory to you, O mystery of the oil,

since you became worthy to be in fellowship with

Christ.

With you the victorious are crowned in the contest, 

and you are twinned with the Spirit.

And you fly over the water like your (twin,) 

the Holy Spirit,

you mix the soul with mind,

and you renew the body with the birth of salvation.

Come, O partner of the firstborn;

Come, O renewer of humanity by the birth to eternal 

life;

and rest upon these believers, the beloved ones of our 

Lord Jesus Christ, and purify them and sanctify them

from all the stains of their bodies,

and may they become for you temples for your

dwelling

and rest for the Son of perfect mercy. 

And may you perfectly sanctify them with the birth of

salvation.”

(Translated from the Syriac by Brent Landau)

May we all become wiser, closer to God, and better disciples of the Christ Child in the year ahead.

Amen!

Dawn Pisturino, RN

December 23, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Comments »

Happy Winter Solstice

(Stonehenge)

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means “sun stands still.” “At the winter solstice, the apparent position of the Sun reaches its most southerly point against the background stars” (Royal Museum Greenwich). This year, the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. That means today will be the shortest day of the year, with the longest and darkest night. Tomorrow, the days will gradually become longer, leading up to Spring and the Spring Equinox.

The Julian calendar designated December 25th as the winter solstice. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, December 21st became the winter solstice and December 25th remained as the traditional date for Christmas.

The winter solstice is also known as the Feast of Juul (Yule). In Scandinavia, fires were lit, including the Yule log, in honor of the Norse God, Thor. In Germany, the Yule boar (sonargoltr) was sacrificed after a ceremony called heitstrenging was performed, in which celebrants made solemn vows on the boar’s bristles. Celebrating Yule included feasting, drinking, and singing. The Yule log tradition was adopted by the Celts in Europe and the British Isles. Burning the Yule log at the winter solstice brought good luck for the new year. Modern day Yule celebrations are still popular.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia from December 17th to December 24th in honor of the “father of the gods,” Saturn. Celebrants made sacrifices in the Temple of Saturn, held banquets, exchanged gifts, and offered forgiveness to each other for past wrongs.

In Asia, the Dongzhi Festival celebrates longer days, increased positive energy, and the yin-yang of balance and harmony in the community.

Iranians honor the longest, darkest night of the year with feasting and reciting poetry. Eating pomegranates and watermelons is considered particularly auspicious. The festival is called Yalda (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh).

At Stonehenge, people visit to watch the sun’s rays shine through the stones, which are aligned with the path of the sun. The winter solstice was especially important to ancient people because it was an opportunity to pray for fertility and good harvests in the new year.

Happy Solstice! Happy Yule!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Reprise: Saint Nikolaus’s Companion, Knecht Ruprecht

From out the forest I now appear,

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

For at the top of every tree

Are golden lights for all to see;

And there from heaven’s gate on high

I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees,

A loud voice it was that called to me:

“Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow,” it cried,

“Hurry now, make haste. Don’t hide!

All the candles have now been lit —

Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both young and old should now have rest

Away from cares and daily stress;

And when tomorrow to earth I fly

‘It’s Christmas again!’ will be the cry.”

And then I said: “O Lord so dear.

My journey’s end is now quite near;

But to the town I’ve still to go,

Where the children are good, I know.”

“But have you then that great sack?”

“I have,” I said, “It’s on my back,

For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts

For God-fearing children are a must.”

“And is that cane there by your side?”

“The cane’s there too,” I did reply;

“But only for those, those naughty ones,

Who have it applied to their backsides.”

The Christ-child spoke: “Then that’s all right!

My loyal servant, go with God this night!”

From out the forest I now appear;

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

Now speak, what is there here to be had?

Are there good children, are there bad?

Theodor Storm

Translated from the German by Denis Jackson, Isle of Wight.

BIO: Theodor Storm (1817-1888) was a German poet, novelist, and lawyer known for the lyrical quality of his work. He died of cancer in 1888. Knecht Ruprecht (Krampus) is still a popular figure seen in Germany (and other countries) at Christmas. While St. Nikolaus rewards the good children, Krampus punishes the bad.

Dawn Pisturino

11 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: