Today's posting contains more text and fewer pictures than usual. I hope you won't mind. I think the extra reading will be well worth your time.
First, in reference to the icon above of Holy Rachel, a woman of the Old Testament, I asked a dear friend of mine, Eugene Sendelweck, to write a brief article on the significance of Rachel in Scripture. I knew he had been studying the Book of Genesis which includes the story of Rachel's life. I also knew that Eugene has a good general knowledge of Scripture. Thus, I felt he could provide a great deal of insight and I was right!
Here, then, is the article by Eugene.
Rachel’s TearsRachel’s story in the history of God’s first covenant with His people Israel (see Genesis 28-35) unfolds as she becomes the second wife of the Patriarch, Jacob and is forced to share that role simultaneously with her sister, Leah. Rachel furthers God’s Plan for His people by giving birth to Joseph and Benjamin. The complete story is replete with many examples of deception, bitterness, jealousy, and pride but always culminates in the affirmation of God’s promises to His people, despite their innate sinfulness. After her death (in childbirth) and burial (on the road just outside of Bethlehem), the Scriptures are relatively silent as to her existence, except for two instances.
The first (Jeremiah 31:15-17) occurring nearly a millennium after her death when “a voice of mourning and great weeping” is heard in Ramah, “Rachel wailing for her children and refusing to be consoled for her children are no more.” This is understood as a prophecy of the impending Babylonian Exile and Rachel’s voice as one of intercession for her children (God’s people Israel), and the Lord responds by assuring her of their ultimate return to the Promised Land. Those who would be killed, not be sent into exile, were the aged and children – those considered too weak to make the long journey.
The second (Matthew 2:17-18) is a repetition of Rachel’s lament, (heard first in Jeremiah), and occurs as an empathetic response to Herod’s attempt to ensure the death of the Infant Jesus by ordering the destruction of all male babies under the age of two years in and around the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, as you know, was the town where Jewish prophecy said the Messiah would be born. Matthew’s Gospel indicates this reference as the fulfilment of prophecy relating to Herod’s decree, and “Rachel’s weeping” once again is heard in intercession – this time for God’s people of the New Covenant of Redemption foreseen in the Saviour’s Birth. The children were killed while Jesus, Mary and Joseph went into exile.
Finally, in addition to Rachel’s roles in salvation history, as Matriarch, Prophetess and Intercessor, some have seen her as a bridge between the first Eve (created in the image of God but fallen into a state of original sin) and the second Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary – the God-bearer – born without sin, and the instrument of eternal salvation for all creation, Jew and Gentile alike. (Rachel is revered by all three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.) Holy Rachel, pray for us and for the unity of all God’s people!
Next, I want to show you some photographs of a very unusual deer. In fact, it is so unusual that when I first received the photos, I immediately went to Snopes to check and see if it was real or just a fake photo that was circulating the Internet. Snopes said the photographs are real and the black white-tailed deer actually does occur rarely in the species. What follows is the information I was able to gather.
"This little guy is an example of melanism, a condition where an individual has darker coloration than the norm. You can think of it kind of as the opposite of albinism, where an organism lacks color and appears white. Melanism has been documented in a lot of different species and is typically very rare, although in some species it's a relatively common color phase. That's not the case with white-tailed deer, however, so these photos are pretty unique and special. In fact, while albino deer are also really rare, compared to documented cases of melanistic deer they are much more frequently seen, making this melanistic fawn the rarest of them all. Even this deer's twin has standard coloration! We have photographer Richard Buquoi to thank for these beautiful images, which were shot near Austin, Texas in May 2010. Mr. Buquoi confirms that the black fawn depicted in them is real."
Here we seen the black fawn with his twin sister and their mother.
Here they are again but this time his sister is giving him a very sisterly kiss.
Sadly, these photos and an article about them were all set to be published in a hunting magazine about the time the photos were posted on the Internet. The thought that some hunter might want to shoot this beautiful deer as a trophy (when he is grown and has a rack of antlers) makes me feel very sad.
Suki and I are both doing fine and very grateful that Toronto once again escaped a bad snow storm. As I have mentioned previously, wheel chairs do not do well on snow or ice!
Please let me know if you have enjoyed having a guest author. If so, I can arrange to have more articles written by Eugene and other knowledgeable friends.
May God bless you all and grant you His peace.