Friday, July 5, 2013

A Beautiful Life Among the Ruins

It is the condition of our hearts, not the context of our situation that defines who we become.

 We do not allow our circumstance to dictate our reality. 

The coals glowed with the heat that we could feel against our skin as the now familiar smell of wood smoke filled our breath.  The sound of ground corn and water being patted between palms carried over the hardened dirt floor as it has for well beyond a thousand years. The history seems to reach out and make itself known here.

Earlier in the day I had been touched from the outstretched arm of a destitute and broken woman on the street... the tactile nature of this sense of history was no less real.

According to lore, the last eruption of Mt. Agua was over 1000 years ago. While the validity of the local claim is unclear, history does record a massive earthquake in 1773, the same that destroyed Antigua.

What is amazing is to learn how each time the cities were destroyed, they were rebuilt larger and even more beautiful. Tradition remained intact and no effort was made to hide the scars. And that is the real beauty of this land... the cities have been rebuilt among the ruins of the past. The old walls still stand, and the people from the youngest to the oldest can recount the stories that make them who they are today. 

Kellie and I ate a chicken stew that was grown, harvested, and prepared by the families with whom we dined. Chicken, carrots, spices, rice, tortillas, and coffee that was all ground and cooked by blade, stone, hand, and fire.
There was an innate honesty about the food we ate from earthen bowls and glazed cups. We were transported back to a different time, possibly even a better time, or a least a simpler time. A time where things like history, family, tradition, and even love seemed to rule the day.

Of course... we have history and it also shows us the dark pieces of that time, but for this small moment today, we allowed ourselves to celebrate all that is good.

(Yes, that is Kellie... my fearless, fierce, and beautiful wife) Everyone should try carrying a large pottery basin filled with water... simpler times of course did not means easier times. 

But for this bit of earth, the advance of technology hasn't yet stamped out the culture, and for Kellie and I, the day was filled with lessons not just of language and history, but also of integrity and character.

It is good to remember the path that has brought us here. It is even beautiful to look at the ruins of the past and to see the rich heritage and the steps that made us who we are. 

We continue on these steps to lead us forward, and we are thankfully aware of the deep meaning that surrounds both our bodies and our souls as we find this beautiful life among the ruins.

Overlooking San Antonio, Guatemala (complete with volcano)

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