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Coppery Gold

The mountains to the south of the monastery turn a coppery gold, reflecting the last rays of the setting sun.

A Paved Work of Sapphire Stone

In the Sinai mosaic, Christ is depicted within an aureole of graduated blue tesserae set in four concentric bands, with the darkest blue at the centre. Eight rays of light extend outwards from His person. The artist has achieved this by using the next higher register of colour within each of the bands, until the light emerges white from the aureole.

The blue tesserae call to mind God’s revelation to Moses and the Seventy Elders of Israel, where it is written,

Καὶ εἶδον τὸν τόπον, οὗ εἱστήκει ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ· καὶ τά ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ ἔργον πλίνθου σαπφείρου καὶ ὥσπερ εἶδος στερεώματος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῇ καθαριότητι. Καὶ τῶν ἐπιλέκτων τοῦ ᾿Ισραὴλ οὐ διεφώνησεν οὐδὲ εἷς· καὶ ὤφθησαν ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ἔφαγον καὶ ἔπιον.

And they saw the place where the God of Israel stood: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the appearance of the firmament of heaven in its clearness. And of the elect of Israel not even one was lost; also they appeared in the dwelling place of God, and did eat and drink. (Exodus 24:10-11 LXX)

Evagrius the Solitary, who lived in the fourth century, has invoked these verses as a spiritual place which all are summoned to enter:

When the mind has put off the old man and clothed itself with grace, then during prayer it will see its own nature like a sapphire or the colour of heaven. In Scripture this is called the dwelling place of God that was seen by the Elders on Mount Sinai.

The Play of Light

The sixth century apse mosaic at Sinai depicts the Transfiguration of Christ. His garments are white, with shades of light grey. They are bordered by gold bands, executed in tesserae of light gold, dark gold, and tesserae with gold leaf.

When the light is direct, the gold leaf is bright, and it blends with the light gold tesserae. When the light is oblique, the gold leaf is dark, and it then blends with the dark gold tesserae. This play of light was clearly understood by the artists who created the mosaic so many centuries ago.

Cloudy Morning

A cloudy morning

Olive Trees

The olive trees are in bloom. Some of the olive trees at Sinai are over one thousand years old.

Thursday After Pascha

The Thursday after Pascha was also March 30, the feast day of Saint John, Abbot of Sinai, and author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Νῦν πάντα πεπλήρωται φωτός, οὐρανός τε καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ καταχθόνια· ἑορταζέτω γοῦν πᾶσα κτίσις τὴν ἔγερσιν Χριστοῦ, ἐν ᾗ ἐστερέωται.

Now are all things filled with light, heaven, and earth, and the regions under the earth. Let all creation, therefore, celebrate the arising of Christ, whereby it is established.

Holy Pascha

Μηδεὶς ὀδυρέσθω πταίσματα· συγγνώμη γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ τάφου ἀνέτειλε.

Let no one bewail transgressions, for forgiveness hath dawned forth from the tomb. (Paschal Homily of Saint John Chrysostom)

Holy and Great Friday

Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα, εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐλήλυθεν αὐτοῦ ἡ ὥρα ἵνα μεταβῇ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα, ἀγαπήσας τοὺς ἰδίους τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς.

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)

Χριστῳ συνεσταύρωμαι· ζῶ δέ, οὐκέτι ἐγώ, ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός· ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκί, ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἁγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Weathered Post

A weathered post supporting a beam behind the Burning Bush

Reflected First Light

The monastery is still in shadow when the first light of a new day shines on the mountain peaks beyond the chapel of the Prophet Aaron.