While Cassie and I visited southern Mexico we were gifted the opportunity to join a Mayan community in its celebration of the Creator God the night before good Friday. We left San Cristobal de Las Casas a little before nightfall and headed to a mountain top considered sacred by the community. In the dark and through the rain we trooped through pasture, over barbed wire, through dung and eventually reached the peak. Soon we were joined by many more who had made the journey in order to keep vigil until sunrise the next morning. Through many candles, much prayer, reflection and the sharing of food we joined the community in celebration that night. Following the evening Elena asked that we write a reflection that she could then share with the community about our evening of worship with them. We thought that bits and pieces of this letter may be helpful for our community and therefore wanted to post the following excerpt of our reflection with the Mayan community:
While worshiping with your community I felt very blessed to see another perspective of praise and adoration for the Creator of our world. This experience helped me to see the beauty that exists in the world around us and also challenged me to be even more open to the ways in which people express their love for God, the world around them and the people within their community. I will be forever indebted to you and your community for giving me this gift and for creating in me the ensuing conversations and thoughts that this experience has created. To see the passion and the traditions of another world of which I know and understand so little, and yet to see and experience love, grace and devotion through this experience was one of the most beautiful cultural experiences I have ever had in my life.
I also felt a deep sense of sadness for the ways in which people around the world continue to struggle with the effects and realities of domination and imperialism which were and continue to be made in the name of God. The expression of faith we witnessed and participated in was a beautiful one and one that unfortunately the majority of the Christian world would not appreciate. The religious leaders would be upset and would be critical of what was done and what was not done. Instead, of being thankful for lives filled with mystery, with devotion, with love and respect for the Creator, church leaders would be dissatisfied and hell bent on the instruction of proper orthodoxy. I wish that all the world could not only be thankful for this expression of faith, but that they could also allow people to express their faith in their own ways without being critical because of the fact that the expression is something either uncomfortable for them, or because of the fact that they cannot see something outside of what they understand and know to be a true expression of faith to the living God.
We all are under some form of oppression whether we realize it or not. People groups who have historically claimed power suffer from the consequences of not being able to rejoice in the beauty of the other because doing so would force them to loose their status of privilege. Likewise, people who do not have power are continually controlled by the people who do. I was struck by the fact that your community is very concerned about the ways in which the Catholic church and its traditions and beliefs are of great concern for them. I understand that many of them are devout Catholics and have respect for the ways in which they seek to live into this faith, and also remain true to their cultural heritage and beliefs. Hopefully, we can all move forward in our devotion and love and find the place to which we have been called.
Blessings and Peace
*While we would have loved to share photos with you of this evening, the Mayan culture asks that photographs are not taken during their religious ceremonies.