Of the Empire
We will be known as a culture that feared death and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity for the few and cared little for the penury of the many. We will be known as a culture that taught and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke little if at all about the quality of life for people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a commodity. And they will say that this structure was held together politically, which it was, and they will say also that our politics was no more than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of the heart, and that the heart, in those days, was small, and hard, and full of meanness.
Two nights ago I officiated at a wedding in Antigua, Guatemala. The couple, John Myers (Nature Conservancy) and Lucrecia Masaya Arias (Jaguar specialist), are conservationists whose lives are dedicated to serving the life around them. The ceremony took place in the circular tower of El Convento de las Capuchinas. This is the room where the stone block cells of the nuns fed into a central round chamber that in this day and time was open to the sky because the roof had long crumbled. In those times, as in now, the culture brought much insecurity to the many, and only a few had the power to perceive safety. Yet in the midst of colonialism that ,oh dear heart, please bear this pain, ruined the world were my beloved parrots and people are disappearing, there was also the commitment to build a new world based on love. In the ruins, we find evidence that the heart is quite large. It’s just that the last chamber that pumps blood to the body, has constricted and lets little light out to the world.
By candle light the couple marrying one another stood in this ancient chamber as I asked them to look to the sky, to the garden of the earth, and to the friends and family around them. In their promises to one another, I heard all hearts there come together, letting the roof of their ego-protecting shells crumble for one moment so that we could take in the power of love around us.
In this ruined land of the south coast of Guatemala, industrial production of sugar cane threatens to finish off what colonialism and other forms of agriculture already did to the original inhabitants here.
May we live today looking to love so that those who come afterwards know that the Empire was not a monolith of fear and corruption, but contained an underground counter insurgency whose ranks fill with those who promise fidelity to jaguars, people, and parrots.
Thank you John and Lucrecia for showing all those who gathered how to open the chambers of the heart.