May 15, 2013 – Chichicastenango and a few places in between
Today was ridiculously inspiring. Meeting Miguel and his family, eating with them and sharing so much with them put so much of what we’ve been touching on intellectually into tangibility. The poverty that these people face and everything we, as Americans, take advantage of.
The green house was great. And it gives them not only food for themselves, but an income they can reply on (as much as any famer can rely on a harvest). Talking about Miguel’s poverty and then sharing food with them—as close to being a part of that as I will ever come. And the kids more and more just kept coming around.
Talking about liberation—it’s not just from the government, who is economically crushing these people, but it’s from the cycle that they can’t get out of. One of the greenhouses costs eight thousand quetzelas, which is about one thousand dollars. I pay more for than out of pocket to attend school each semester—actually more than that for each class I take.
They are in desperate need of money and assistance, but I think they are more in need of attention. We have to look and they need to be seen. By us and the Guatemalan government—not by their own people in the same situation that they are in. Having only two to three hours of running water each day, and having to stock pile it for later—it occurred to me that those kids may never have experienced a really hot shower, which is one of my favorite relaxation methods. They all seem happy and well-blessed, so perhaps one cannot miss what one does not have. If that is so, then how do we understand that what we miss is not always what is necessary.
Now—the Mayan ceremony. There is so much to say about this. I’ve never felt more disconnected from nature as I do in Texas. The ceremony strongly reminded me that it’s nature everywhere, not just in my immediate location, that is important. I can still be connected to it even if I am surrounded by cement and brick.
The offering we gave to the fire was of the earth and to the earth. We give back what is given to us. A cycle. They said at the school everything is dualistic, but I slightly disagree. They might see a dualism, but everything they do seems cyclical in nature. Giving back what is given is a promise that I believe many Christians are missing. Where is nature in our ceremonies? Where is the prayer to the gifts that God gives us and the giving back of those gifts? Not just monetarily, but actual gifts and talents.
The sense of smell and using it to invoke a certain ritual or feeling in a person is something Christians have been doing for centuries and something we’re losing. Having those lacking is changing our faith and practice of our religion. Rarely do we use real candles any more (something I know the THR does not like at all) and rarely do we use incense to bring us into a mode of thought. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to lose everything we had it before, times change and people change, religion must change also, but there is powerful meaning and memory in keeping some of the practices. And we need to be aware of what we are losing and changing, as well as what we are gaining.