Mayan Civilization

When our volunteer work took my husband Andrew, our daughter Angelina, and me from Europe to Central America, we were blessed with the wonderful opportunity to visit a peaceful lake in Guatemala that had once been a local center of the rich Mayan culture. In this serene setting, the main event of the day for locals and visitors alike is watching the sun set behind three volcanoes that rim the west side of the lake. Here the pleasures of life are simple, like swimming where the volcanic hot springs rise up into the lake, creating a curious mixture of ice-cold, tepid, and very hot water.

I don’t drink coffee myself, but I was fascinated to observe how coffee beans are grown, dried, roasted, ground, and finally brewed to a delicious deep brown cup of coffee. The aroma was intoxicating, and the taste, said Andrew and Angelina, was divine—a truly homemade cup of coffee from beginning to end.

It was a curious sight—tourists on temporary reprieve from their fast-paced, pressure-driven, “civilized” lives in juxtaposition with Mayan women peacefully weaving their beautiful multicolored cloth, some with an infant child, grandchild, or perhaps even great-grandchild sleeping peacefully in a sling across their backs or playing quietly nearby. What a contrast!

Although the Mayans of today must sell their wares to the foreigners in order to survive, they have not let the pressures of the modern world pollute their lives. Industrious and hard-working, they work in rhythm, sunrise to sunset, producing lovely traditional garments. Not swept along by the fashion trends, they proudly wear their own wares, as do their children. Nor are they dependent on the pharmaceutical system, but find the medicines they need right in the trees and plants that are grown locally. They even produce their own cosmetics. (My hair has done better with the herbal shampoo I bought from them than it has with any commercially produced shampoo, herbal or otherwise, that I’ve ever tried!)

While sitting beneath the softly waving palm trees, listening to gentle waves lap the lakeshore and observing the sun set behind the volcanoes, I felt like I had been taken up to God’s heavenly kingdom and shown one of the reasons that I had been created—to enjoy it all!

Jet-setters, get-aheaders, and others consider the Mayans backward, but I’m not so sure. Speed and stress take the joy out of life, but slowing down and bringing our priorities into line with God’s puts it back in.