Thursday, December 2, 2010

Festival of Lights

Among the holiday celebrations that occur in Portland every year, my all-time favorite is the Christmas Festival of Lights which takes place every Advent season on the beautiful grounds of The Grotto:

“Let this be a sanctuary of peace for all peoples of the earth and surely in this day a sanctuary is needed. Torn with differences, strife, and grief, the world needs sanctuary where the human spirit can seek peace and consolation.” Today, we welcome people from around the world, people of all faiths and no faith. Without exception our visitors speak of the peace they experience here in the spiritual and natural beauty of this sanctuary, where God’s presence abounds and where special tribute is given to Mary, the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus. The Grotto continues to grow over the years to meet the needs of the people in an ever-changing world. The dream, work and promise of one man have become the ministry of all who serve here.

.........Our celebration of Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving with the opening of our most popular event, The Christmas Festival of Lights. With over 500,000 lights, 150 choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, puppet shows and hot chocolate this is a special event for the whole family.

Our church's choir has performed for many years as part of the festival.  In years past, I have enjoyed singing in these concerts enormously.....but due to Sjogren's dryness my singing days are over and I've given up my part in ringing handbells as well. Which is a very very good thing. (Terese - our accompanist - breaks out in hives whenever she remembers me ringing the last tone of an entire concert out loud and clear - and on the most awfully wrong note that I could have possibly chosen. I'm blaming autoimmune brain fog for my mistake. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Last night, their concert was awesome and inspirational. I sat in the darkened church and listened, amazed and humbled at the purity of the young choir members' voices, so perfectly pitched, so well rehearsed, and sung with such confidence and beauty.

What a fabulous gift that was. Afterwards, I felt as though the Christmas season had truly begun.

As always, I had my camera with me.

A life-sized nativity scene is placed into a cave hewn from an enormous basalt cliff.

Votive candles placed next to the scene flicker in the night.

I think this is a stunning sculpture of Mary and Jesus.

The church at The Grotto has amazing art and acoustics.

Ah, and the lights.........


annie said...

How absolutely beautiful all the lights are, and the Blessed Virgin and Child look so realistic. It brings home to us that Christmas is more than running around shopping for presents. Where I live, our Oratory has nativity scenes from all over the world every year during the holidays.

stephanie said...

Wonderful, wonderful!

Debbie B said...

Absolutely lovely photos!!! I am sorry that you can't sing now... I feel your pain. Last night, my husband (who is the Minister of Music at our church) told me that he had found someone to sing my solo for the Christmas cantata. Singing has always been one of my great joys.

But sometimes, it is so nice just to listen and soak in the beauty of the moment.

I hope you continue to experience the joy of Christmas during this Advent season.


Orb Weaver said...

Thats a sculpture???? How gorgeous!

love ya mumsie!

Julia Oleinik said...

Back atcha honey bun!!

Haven't you seen this sculpture before? It's on display in the gift shop now but used to be up at the top of the cliff in the meditation room.