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Interrupting the new series of street shots to post the last Bethlehem Advent image......on the 12th Day of Christmas - as traditionally many people in the UK and around the world take down their decorations.....spare a thought for the world's most famous refugees from the murder and mayhem of leadership which has lost common humanity.

The story of the massacre of babies and the flight of Mary, Joseph and their son to Egypt, links many Christians and many Muslims particularly to the plight of refugees worldwide. This image took a personal twist yesterday as I met a young Lebanese woman who was evacuated along with her mother and brother from the bombing and shelling of Beirut in the summer.....it was incredibly sad to hear this educated and soft spoken young woman talk of the nightmare reality of bombs and shells targeted on the city, the sleepless nights and abject terror......yet it was incredibly heartwarming and full of hope to see this woman, subjected to such abuse of her human rights, present such a conciliatory.......no I misrepresent her.......her heartfelt belief in the goodness of people of all sides and the sadness she felt that such bad leadership amongst nations could have such effects on ordinary people. I sat and talked with her for over an hour as she told me of the confusion and lack of focus that has resulted in being uprooted in this way....her confusion at losing everything..............according to the papers I read in Jerusalem she was, according to prevailing military doctrine....an 'acceptable and justifiable civilian casualty'.....isn't that also a terrorist argument....I get too confused myself!

This visual reminder (from the cave of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem) that, at the heart of every 'refugee problem', there are ordinary people like you and me.....ordinary families.....with extraordinary human potentials.....came alive again to me yesterday as i thought about posting this picture. I have now met so many refugees from different conflicts it is very hard at times for me to see anything rational in the way we organise ourselves as human beings.......

This peaceful image is somehow bringing out such a subtle and focused mixture of anger and sadness that the combination is resulting in a very clear mind and a new sense of determination this morning. A good way to start the year!

This one is for Luis in Portugal.


"The Church on the "Milk Grotto"

"In Bethlehem the sacred area around the Nativity Grotto has been the focal point of all tradition. Nevertheless in Bethlehem a small Chapel has been for long centuries a devotional site. The "Milk Grotto" over which today a small Chapel rises, is frequently visited by local women, Christians and Moslems alike, to ask for the intercession of Mary, mother of Jesus. A legend recalls how Mary spilt some milk while breast feeding baby Jesus and this is the reason for the "white" stone of the cave. A tradition going back to the VII century located at this site the burial place of the innocent victims killed by Herod the Great after the birth of Jesus."

Franciscan website.

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Additional Photos by Kev Ryan (KevRyan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1798 W: 194 N: 5130] (22952)
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