Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Star

As we look forward our trip to be with family with such great anticipation, I also think about last year's Christmas. How much we enjoyed staying at home in our own house. The anticipation we felt at taking a journey to an unfamiliar environment and what we would experience there.

Oman was an incredible trip and the only part of the Middle East we've been to. In fact, we have the ability to venture into other Middle Eastern countries but we would need a new passport if we wished to visit Israel right now. We don't have immediate plans to althought Kendra's friends family says "Come!"

With an Arabic country stamp in our passport, we wouldn't be allowed enty - the history of the past 60 years is fascinating - read up on it. I've finally come to a basic understanding of the issues between the Middle East countries and one issue - many of them still don't Israel as a separate, sovereign State/Country. Thus our Omani stamp would deny us entry.

Anyway, start of the post and I've digressed already.

One of my most vivid memories of that trip was our overnight stay in the Wahiba Sands - Thousand Nights Desert Camp. The quiet, acacia trees, wool blanketed tents, food, camels waking up noisily, herd of goats on their way home for the night, incredible sunset, the cold that settled in as night fell and - the stars.

The one picture that I couldn't take was of the stars in the middle of the night. For one, it was so dark in our room I wouldn't be able to find the camera anyway - generators went off at 10pm. For another, it was cold was I was quickly using our open-ceiling bathroom facility. Mostly, because I knew that whatever picture I took, it would never do the experience justice.

We were 50 -60 km into the Desert and about 200km from the nearest large city and source of man-made light. The only nighttime experience I've had close to that night was over 20 yrs ago in the mountains of Oregon.

It seemed as if I could reach out and put my hand right through the stars - they were close and far all at once - the dimension effect was incredible - like looking in a double mirror where the reflection goes on endlessly. They were so bright and clear and endless. If it wasn't so cold, I could have sat for hours looking up at that incredible show.

I read this verse differently now: "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him." Matthew 2:2

I can now envision the sky the wise men studied so long ago. How it must have looked to them. And to see a Star that was different than any other. They must have known that sky so well. How did they pick it out? How bright and evident was it?

Most theologians/biblical historians say that Jesus would have most likely been born sometime in September - not around our modern day December 25. The Desert would still have been very warm during the day and cooling off at night. And the sky would be incredible. No artificial light sources to detract from the glowing of the stars. The moon providing a bright light.

So we dream of a white Christmas but in reality, it was a very different scene 2,ooo years ago.

In closing - this is my last post from Switzerland for 2009. Every electric socket in our living area is full - charging up all the electric equipment we require for modern day travel - camera batteries, DS's, iPods, etc... Neighbor has key and watchful eyes - have to love that! It's snowing and we've decided to take it easy and not squeeze in too much today.

By the way - Bart said he signed 'the papers', the Swiss office signed 'the papers' and they are in the US Global mobility office for finalization. So - looks like the Olson family will complete 5 years in Switzerland and then head home to the States - April '11 for Bart and June '11 for Susan & girls. More on that as time goes by. It's a solid decision for the current climate of business and change.

Not sure how many posts I will complete while we are busy being merry with family & friends in CA but I hope to get a few in.

I wish you all a very, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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