Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Miracle of the Empty Tomb

My brother bought a bottle of Irish bailey's cream, and I had some choco chips lying around... and decided to make some Bailey's Irish Cream Brownies and they came out pretty good. Here's the instagram video (click on the link). I've been hooked to Instagram since the first time my sister told me about it, in fact....  I waste so much time on instagram nowadays that I don't have any time to waste on Facebook.
Here are the brownies, with a flaky exterior and a dense chewy interior.... these were quite good, I could get the taste of bailey's with each bite. 

Here's an article about Easter I wrote for the church magazine...
In case reading the image might be too trying, the text is given below:

I have always wondered why Easter isn't as big or as exciting as Christmas... I mean who wouldn't want to celebrate the knowledge that death isn't the end of everything, that one day we too will be resurrected and live forever in the Father's Kingdom. It is this knowledge that should shape our lives, if people believed this then they would try to live their temporary lives on this planet in a meaningful way. This last stanza in the song ‘At the cross’ says it all:
  And when the earth fades,  Falls from my eyes
             And You stand before me, I know You love me…

Death is not an easy topic to discuss, Ash Wednesday deals with this very aspect of our mortality. Ultimately the world will fade from our eyes and only God knows where we get to spend eternity. Heaven could be here on earth too, when we die we get clothed in God’s grace, and we begin to see the world in a new light. Maybe the ones who have gone ahead are right now living in a parallel universe to us, probably obscured from our worldly senses. Jesus did say He would make all things new (Rev 21:5) and maybe He does appear to each one of us when we die to carry us safely into His divine presence, where we are made new in grace.

Or maybe heaven is somewhere up there enshrouded in the clouds, who really knows… What we do know by faith is that heaven is a place of happiness and peace and true communion with God. This is exactly what everybody unconsciously wants, even if they say otherwise. The familiar saying ‘There are no atheists in fox holes’, sums up man’s attitude towards death. Even atheists can’t help but call out to some higher power in the face of imminent danger. Because of this very uncertain but sure aspect of death, the feast of Easter brings about hope and triumph, it is a celebration of the promise Jesus made in John 14:1-3:
“Do not be worried and upset.” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.”

Easter is a joyous occasion to let go of the past and to live in the present trusting in the Lord to help us through our journey into His kingdom. It is a time to take in the enormity of what Jesus accomplished for us by taking on the mantle of the cross and suffering for our sins so that we may not perish but have eternal live. We are the reason he gave up His life, He gave us all He could give to show us a reason to live. That is what we are called to do, live an extraordinary life in God, empowered by His spirit and nature. The miracle of the empty tomb is the greatest deed that has ever taken place in this world and it will only be surpassed when Our Lord comes again in all His glory to make all things new.
I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and all those who live and believe in me will never die. John 11:25-26
                                           
Have a blessed and wonderful Easter.... Everybody. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baden, Olten and Bern...

An uncle and aunt live in Baden, which is about 3 hours from Geneva, so we (me and Nam) set out to meet them one fine morning. Their house is near the Limmat river and while aunt was cooking up a tasty lunch, Nam and me decided to explore the area.
 Went walking along the riverbank... it's such a pretty place with beautiful places to settle down with a book or exercise or have a picnic or just contemplate life. 
Amazing view, the river flowing on peacefully... reminds me of this Garth Brooks song.
Fish steps, apparently fishes that get washed to the other side can find their way back through these step like formation.... 
Swings, we sat here sometime... 
So while walking we came across these blue pebbles in a trickling brook... and we were pretty fascinated with them, until we realised they were fruits that had fallen down from a tree right above this stream. 
Fine detail of a very pretty plant... 
Home decor... everybody seems particularly fond of this owl, saw an almost similar thing in somebody's garden in Germany. Many stores sell owl prints and statues too... what's the deal with the owl, people of Europe?
While strolling, we heard the pealing of church bells and decided to locate the Church... after walking around and asking a few people, in the few French & German words we picked up there: 'where can we find the Church or Eglise (French) or Kirche (German)?'... we finally chanced upon this church. 
Inside the church...
The baptismal font... 
Quaint hut structure with I think the Nativity scene inside... 
After a really good lunch (this aunt is a fantastic cook) we visited the ruins of Stein castle....
Baden as seen from the ruins of the castle...    
An arch in the castle... 
All that remains of what might have been a mighty structure once... 
So if there is a castle or a fort anywhere, a church cannot be far... this is the city church, otherwise known as the St. Sebastian's chapel with a very colourful steeple.
The opulent inside... 
The crucifix... 
Baden, old town... 
While travelling to Baden, we saw theses two spires from the train, and we decided to explore them on the way back. So the next day we got down at a stop called Olten to explore the St. Martin church... 
Inside the St. Martin church... 
Jesus surrounded by saints... 
This was a small chapel nearby... 
Apparently this wooden carved Jesus was on an ancient cross at the altar, after the ravages of time (or wars) this is what happened, His hand and feet are not there...
A fountain...
We had to change trains at Bern, the capital of Switzerland, and we decided to explore this place too before heading back home. We visited this church and the old town near the station...
Inside the Paroisse Catholique de langue Francaise (Catholic Parish of the French Language, is the literal translation)
The detailing in these arches... 
A wood sculpture of the pieta... 
 I especially liked this one, Mother Mary and child Jesus standing beneath a canopy of sparkling stars that twinkled in the painted night sky. 
The bright altar.... 
Saw this graceful lady reclining in a park nearby... (click on the picture for a larger view)
And the description on the plaque read:
Around the world by Rene'de Saint-Marceaux
The monument of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), unveiled on 4 October 1909, is the work of French sculptor, Rene de Saint-Marceaux (1845-1915). Made of granite and bronze, it commemorates the founding of the organization in Berne. Five figures - allegories of Africa. Asia, the Americas, Australia and Europe - encircle the globe and hand letters to one another, symbolizing ineternational communication by post. The city of Berne is personified as a majestic noblewoman - Berna - holding the city's coat of arms in one hand. Founded in Berne on 9 October 1874, the Universal Postal Union was the second international organization to be created. It became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1948.
There was a fair taking place in the town square at Bern, and that's where we had a lunch of crepes... This is a spinach and cheese crepe, good food. See that black ring I am wearing, picked that up in Padua at the gift shop in the Shrine of St. Antony of Padua, the Our Father is inscribed on it in Latin. 
The Bern munster, reminded me of the Ulm Munster in Germany. 
Window boxes bursting with red flowers... 
This clock tower, called the Zytglogge, is quite a famous medieval tower in Bern. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Yvoire and Nyon...

Continued from the previous post, so after lunch we continued exploring Yvoire...
 This place is such a haven for people who love to walk around and get lost in the beauty of ancient stone houses shrouded in vibrant hues of flowering plants...
 Flowers everywhere... 
 The tourist office, every city or village in Europe seems to have offices like this for tourists, where one can just walk in and ask for maps or directions or recommendations for food. I collected so many maps and leaflets, along with a few pebbles, autumn leaves, ticket stubs... for memories. 
Walking another path from church... 
 The church steeple and lake lehman... 
 Picture perfect... 
 A bride arrived while we were walking around... me and Nam tried catching sight of the bridegroom... but we just couldn't find him, so we lost interest and continued walking... 
How quaint...
 Imagine having a place like this to unwind, imagine sitting on that bench under that tree with a book... reading and lazily watching life go by. 
 Nice dash of colour... 
 The road on the other side of the village... 
 A part of the fortification built in the early fourteenth century...  
 The day was really beautiful... the skies were constantly beaming down on us, bathing the land below in warm sunshine and the land below was reciprocating by brimming with colour. 
 This is the other side of the fort, we saw in the previous post. We walked all around the little village and came to the other side of it... where we saw a plaque that read: 
Nernier Gateway: Built early in the 14th century, at the same time as the battlements and the castle, by Amédée V. At that time a bridge crossed the ditch that surrounded the village. The entrance to the latter was closed at the front with double gates and at the back by a portcullis. You can see the gates' hinges and the grooves where the portcullis used to slide. The level of the old road was roughly 2m10 above the level now. During the wars of religion in the 16th century, the battlements were partly destroyed. There are still 6 merlons 50 meters to the right. Gate classified as a "Historical Monument". 
 Cute door...
 The castle of Yvoire, this is a private property and people aren't allowed to look around.  
 How cute is this house... I wonder if lizards appear in houses like this...
 Ah, this place is laden with beauty... even in the most simplest of things, like this pretty pot stand.  
The castle of Yvoire... wonder who lives there... 
This is the garden of five senses, where a variety of plants are grown in separate sections, there are flowers to smell, different kinds of leaves to feel, edible plants and fruits to eat, different leaves and plants to see, and fountains and chirping of birds to hear...
 Here is a small fountain with trickling water...
 A stream flowing over pebbles... this is the garden of hearing.
 An informational room, where documents about the five senses corresponding to the garden is screened... 
 So after a delightful trip we set sail back to Nyon... 
 As usual, all the elements of the sky were fascinating... 
 Nearing Switzerland... 
 Docking at Nyon... 
 On the way to the station, we came across one of the cutest churches I've seen... with the castle of Nyon towering over it.  
 The incredibly simple and beautiful interior... this is the kind of church I really like, not the opulent grandiose ones where the extravagant beauty of the place can be distracting, a church should be serene like this, enabling you to reflect and pray not be awed by the structure you are in.
View from the church... 
 Europe has lots of castles... this is the castle of Nyon, it now houses some exhibitions... 
 View from the Nyon castle...    
 Pretty windows in Nyon... 
 Some fair was going on... people were dancing and having a great time.
And almost everyone was drinking beer... seemed like a nice laid back way to spend the weekend. 
 Pretty lace curtains... 
We stopped to shop at this store that had some pretty ceiling lights... 

And after this we headed back home... content, happy, and blessed to enjoy a day like this...