From the plane I see some fires in the hills leading north from Guatemala City and a color spectrum of brown. It’s the dry season and hasn’t rained for 5 months in most places. It is the time of fires in this land, and perhaps too in hearts. The sufis use fire to symbolize the burning away of the ego through love. If not in this land of volcanoes and violence (two gunned the night before last in Antigua where I am staying) where else might I embrace the love that reaches out to embrace me and burn away my sense of independence from a beauty that hurts? If not now, when?
Yesterday I walked around Antigua and it is a strange mix of Western and Mayan civilizations. There are so many tourists here and so many adorned in traditional Mayan dress with faces sculpted from the years populating this land as their ancestors moved south from the Bering Ice Bridge. One Mayan woman, curled up on the sidewalk, had a begging tin cup placed in front of her, and she in front of a colonial church in ruins.
I could not tell if she was blind, for she looked down and away from the crowds passing her by. Her cup was empty and my pockets were full of carefully guarded dollars, quetzales, recent purchases, and my passport. Somewhere in that depth of attachments I found a handful of coins to give to her and then I noted the white/brown feather placed beside her cup. Besides identifying it as a secondary wing feather from a red domestic rock dove I wondered what the feather was doing there? Did the woman place it there as a sign of beauty to draw in doners? Did some bird chance to fly over and drop it there, a seemingly random gift offering only available to those with eyes to see? Or did some one passing by offer beauty to this withdrawn and life-beaten woman, and to those of us curled up into our own affairs, spiraling in search of control as we beat out a path of meaning to the senseless tragedy around us?
The feather asks, what does the world mean to you and what does it expect of you?