Continuing from Part One: we are now ‘talking’ with our friend Raymond, who is in the Ethiopian highlands, in the holy town of Lalibela, almost every day, via the magical flying electronic carpet. Our earlier post (Part One) described the new Fikir and Ray Lodge, located at 2,500 m (8,500 ft), just above Lalibela, a project funded in part by our friend and now providing livelihood for several young people in the community.
Each morning Raymond walks down into Lalibela to get his coffee at the local cake shop. Along the way he meets local people on the way down, and back up. As Raymond says in response to our comment about the photos having a feel of Biblical times, “Yes, something ‘Biblical’ about Lalibela, inhabitants of whom trace ancestries to Abraham.
Pilgrim prepares to celebrate Genna (Christmas) in Lalibela, Ethiopia
Lalibela is Orthodox, as well as most of the highlands, and to quote Raymond again, "The people of Lalibela are extremely proud [not arrogant], as well as being easy-going and tolerant. And who share hospitality, and friendliness, that is outstanding. They're the politest people I've come across. A people even using separate greetings, for everyone they meet. Depending on age, sex, status, or familiarity.
A generous, well as gentle folk. Which have found comparable to none. They're a people sharing nearly everything. Including their own children. Who also reflect incredible respect. Especially to the young, and to the old. And who tolerate nearly anything. Even resentments from other religions, or nationalities.
A few youngsters Raymond met, on one of his daily walks to Lalibela
Their diet alone, one of the world's healthiest. And fortunately the climate, also, is one of the best. And they're also a clever lot. Are very resourceful. Able to get by with practically nothing at all. Yet, rarely exhibit resentment, sadness, or true feelings.”
A resident of Lalibela
Raymond en route to town
This month, two very important celebrations follow one other in Ethiopia: Genna (Christmas), which just took place on January 7th, and coming up next week, Timket (Epiphany) on January 19th, all according to the Orthodox calendar.
Genna (Christmas) marks the end Advent and 40 days of fasting. On Christmas Eve, huge crowds gather in church services through the night, before celebrating with family and friends on Christmas day.
For both occasions, thousands of pilgrims come to Lalibela from all over Ethiopia, and elsewhere.
Genna (Christmas) scene in Lalibela, Ethiopia, January 7, 2019
Another Gemma (Christmas) scene, Lalibela, January 7, 2019
Timket (also known as Epiphany), is a re-enactment of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. For Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, it serves as a renewal of their baptismal vows. It takes place over two days, and starts when the church tabot (replica of the Ark of the Covenant) is taken from the church to a nearby location, usually near a body of water.
We are told this ceremony symbolizes Jesus coming to the River Jordan. The tabot spends the night in this location while the priests and other faithful hold a vigil through the night. In the morning the water is blessed and is then sprinkled on the gatherers (or they may choose to bathe in the water), renewing their baptismal vows. Long parades then carry the tabot back home to the church while the revelers sing and dance.
Timket ceremony in 2017 (photographer unknown)
As we noted above, many of the photos reflect what could be Biblical times. The only thing that brings us back to our current era is the fact they arrive via the Internet – making this long-distance dialogue possible. It’s as if we are witnessing these daily experiences ourselves, he brings it all to life.
Which we share with our readers, whoever and wherever they are.
[More to come, on a future post.]