Giving Thanks for True Friends






A few years ago I began to hear about a small group of indigenous Kek’chi’ Maya living traditionally in the Central American rain forest.

 

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

As a part of my work and study at SMU Perkins School of Theology in Dallas,Texas, I first traveled there and found that yes, many of them did live a lot like their ancestors of a thousand years. Deep in the wet rain forest, it’s like what we today call wilderness:  roadless, an intense biodiversity, and with abundant, sustainable fresh water. It also means to them living in unity and in coexistence with nature, like what we call doing no harm to the Earth.

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

 

Having arrived by bus at the end of the only passable road, I was told by the driver to start walking, to follow that certain path along a pristine river flowing out of the Maya Mountains toward the Caribbean Sea. Don’t worry, he said,just walk for a few hours and they will find me.

It was August in the rain forest, and about 5 hours into my walk, I was constantly amazed at the flush beauty of nature in the wild at its wildest: massive forest canopies often full of howler monkeys, mangroves full of blue herons, crocodiles, and water snakes – Even an accidental jaguar sighting. Soon after all that…frightened, exhausted, and dehydrated… I collapsed from the overwhelming heat. I simply lay down on the muddy path,my will to live involuntarily dissolving. Going in and out of consciousness, I was wondering if I would be eaten or robbed or just catch a tropical disease and die.

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

 

With my self-importance so diminished and having been brought closer to a glimpse of awareness of what Meditation calls universe perspective, I was not ready for what would happen next: instead of being attacked by my illusion of wilderness danger, in my helpless state I was instead lifted up by two pair of kind, gentle hands and arms, and laid carefully into a small wooden dugout. Still mostly in and out of consciousness, I could sense that someone was poling the boat upriver, over rapids, bumping against logs and shallows. Someone else was pouring the cold river water out of a bowl onto and into me. Slowly reviving, I saw two Maya, one at each end, both working hard to move their small craft and cargo upriver against a strong current. Soon I heard a “Whoop” and saw the rest of their family running down the bank to where we landed.They helped me up the hill and welcomed me to their home: a traditional thatch house: no walls, a fine palm leaf roof, well swept dirt floors, no electricity, no plumbing.  Instead,I found the true hospitality of hammocks, a fire cooking tortillas and fresh fish from the river, along with a cacao drink. Friendly, calm, and simple.

 

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

 

Giving Thanks for True Friends

I stayed not a few days as planned, but three weeks. They showed me their forest gardens, how to fish for our supper, how to work in their milpa, picking and hauling on my back sacks of corn for trading rice and beans, and much more. They took me to swim in the river’s headwaters spewing out of huge granite rocks. Afterwards, at dark, with only the Moon for light, I slept like a baby.After a while I realized it was their wisdom of patience, quiet joy, and wide acceptance that helped me along. We became true friends during our time together. I returned home, changed forever. I have revisited often, and hope to go again soon. Over the years now I realize that it was their spirit that always inspired and moved me, and I know I am always welcome to come back into their universe.

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

 

Giving Thanks for True Friends

 

 

Kek’chi’ Maya : (link) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q’eqchi’_people

Milpa :(link)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milpa