A LETTER FROM THE "END OF THE WORLD"
LAST YEAR at this time I was visiting my old friends in San Luis Petén, Guatemala. Here is a fond recollection of March 2016:
“TIKAL! The Temple of the Jaguar! The well-known actor Morgan Freeman was here not too long ago to get inspiration for his National Geographic series on God and had his picture taken in front of the pyramid just like the rest of us residents and tourists. The reason? According to Hollywood’s malarkey the world was supposed to come to an end on December 2012, but… it didn’t.
The movie’s opening scene shows the Temple of the Jaguar crumbling like an old pile of rocks. The descendants of the Mayan Empire, including our parishioners, are still laughing about it. In fact, the Maya are among the rare people who DO NOT believe in an Apocalypse. They believe in widening cycles of history. Go figure!
On Easter Monday 2016, I concluded the month of March – my favorite – with a “pilgrimage” to Tikal. While tourists braved 90+ degree temperatures to climb the 200 steps of the tallest temple, I sat in the shade of a massive 1,000 year old ceiba. From there I followed the members of an extended Maya family as they prayed to God and Mother Earth, turning to the four corners of the earth with raised hands and offering a burning sacrifice of corn, cacao, beans, candles and incense.
The empire, of course, disappeared centuries ago, but the Maya are alive and well, and so are the Comboni Missionaries who have been sharing their lot and the life of more recent settlers since 2005. I joined them in 2007 when I decided to celebrate my 70th birthday by dropping office life and taking on this new adventure. It was my birthday gift to myself – a keeper as it turned out.