Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent Meditation: Soft vs Hard, Natural vs Man-made, Love vs Fear.

Cloud and Chichenitza pyramid, Mexico. Mel Soriano 2014-11-30
I've been contemplating why this photo struck me so strongly as I took it last week while I was traveling in Mexico. It's basically a corner of the main pyramid at Chichenitza and the cloud behind it. I took many photos that day, but I focused on this one in part because it highlighted an interesting contrast to me. At that time, it was just the difference between soft vs hard materials. But more than that, it meant something deeper, and I gazed at it in wonder. It attracted me more than I understood at that time.

This morning, a comment by one of my best high school friends on Facebook gave a clue as to why I liked it so much. Glenn pointed out that it was also a contrast between the natural and the man-made. Finally, it all started to make sense.

Juxtapositions like this happen all the time but do we really pay attention to the contrast as it happens before our eyes? What might seem simple and direct might actually be connecting at a deeper level, yet we sometimes move on before we have a chance to fully appreciate and understand what is before us. In this instance, the cloud and pyramid weren't just material textures that contrasted, but represented much more, especially during this troublesome Advent season.

The natural is floating so gently in this photo, with elusive, indefinite boundaries. The edges in fact change constantly: it's a cloud after all. The pyramid has striations laid out by man. Strong lines mark every step with heavy burgeoning stones. The soft versus strict lines are as disparate as, say, the concept of justice to Jean Valjean compared to Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. One is difficult to define, the other easily precise.

In addition to the lines, you also have a temporal contrast. Clouds are ephemeral, transient, elusive. They float by and change shapes while you stare at them. What might look like one thing can transform and suddenly you realize it looks like something else. The pyramid, however, is permanent and unchanging. It's ancient. Really ancient. It's so unchanging that the Chichenitza pyramid was lost and forgotten in the jungles for centuries before it was re-discovered. And of course, it hadn't changed during that time.

You also have a marked contrast in origin. The cloud is a gift from God, the source of life, a sign of nourishment, a spigot of life-giving water. It shades from the sun and recedes after it gives of its gift. The pyramid on the other hand is wholly man-made as a gift TO the gods. It's a way to reach towards the heavens, but not to inspire connectivity with gods. Instead, it perpetuates fear of the gods and was a way to make sacrifices to those angry gods. Rather than affirming life, the pyramid was the site where lives were taken to placate and appease. By dispensing with a few, the larger masses felt better, safer, shielded from wrath.

I already had my morning prayers today, but they were focused on the troubling state of affairs in our country in regards to police and ethnic minorities.  My prayers were also on the horrifying revelations found in the torture report regarding the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" techniques. In my name, I feel sin is committed every day. In my supposed security (unfounded as the report shows), people were tortured and minorities are killed without due process. As a way to appease the fearful, our government high priests have deemed it acceptable to maim, intimidate, threaten, terrorize. Where is the Holy Spirit when you need Her? How do you prepare for Christmas with this stain?

So thank you Glenn for digging out of the jungle of my mind the reason the photo struck me so strongly. I prayed, pray, and will pray for a day when we reach out to our God of love and no longer need to build temples of fear. I prayed, pray, and will pray for a day when we no longer need to sacrifice our own to appease the gods, as a cover for the fact that we are just appeasing our own human fears. And I prayed, pray, and will pray for a day when we can look at these monuments of injustice we see today as mere stepping stones to a heaven filled with grace.

May your Advent be lit by the candle of light and life.

Praying for the sacrificed at Chichenitza pyramid, Mexico.
Mel Soriano 2014-11-30

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