Chamula: The Festival of San Sebastian

Hola, queridas!

Our visit to Chamula was several days ago now (Fri), but many of the images I saw there are still running through my mind. This is a very special event for the people of Chamula, and the celebration lasts for several days with the peak on the day we were visiting. This day, many children were baptized, and I noticed that just like in the United States it was a time of great joy for the families and and many tears for the babies.  🙂  Inside the chapel, I experienced a sensory overload. The floor is covered with pine needles — a ritual that brings the people closer to the earth — a source of holiness and energy. The air is filled with the smoke and strong scent of Copal (a common incense used in Chiapas). There are many people packed into the church — some standing in lines facing the altar praying out loud their individual prayers. Some formed in groups around the Statues of the Saints that line the church — caring for and honoring them. Some people moving towards the front of the church where San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) resides. Along the left side of the church, the male saints stand, representing the masculine energy. Along the right side of the church, the female saints stand, representing the female energy and leading to the area where children are baptized. Candles were burning throughout the sanctuary, some in glass containers on the floor and on tables, some placed directly on the floor and secured with melted wax. Musicians occasionally played their instruments in a seemingly random fashion. Then the procession began … Continue reading

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The Cost of Privilege

Buenos Dias dear reader.  It is hard to believe this is Saturday already!  At least that is what the calendar on my laptop says…I have lost complete track of time! I  do want to catch you up on the last two and half days, but first I will tell you about our reflection time on Thursday evening.  Chris Smith and Tim Johnson (pastor at Cherokee Park United Church) asked us a question, “What is one thing that has deepened my own sense of privilege, and what is the cost of that privilege?”  I and my fellow bloggers have already noted a sense of privilege as we prepared for this trip, but now that we are here it becomes even more apparent.  The first image that popped into my mind Continue reading

Chiapas Day 07—Chamula, Candles, and Bare Feet

Happy Father’s Day!  To all the fathers who are reading along with us, we celebrated you today.  Some of us were able to make a phone call or send an email, but many of us were not able to do so.  Instead, we took a moment to think of all of you—the wonderful fathers who have loved us, helped us, and encouraged us.  We thank you and celebrate you for making a difference in our lives.

We were able to have a late start today, which for me meant sleeping in and catching up on some rest.  Then we all walked to a street where buses were parked for hire, and we again avoided the Clowns in a Bus routine by taking two buses to Chamula.

Chamula’s Marketplace

It was a genuine privilege to even be allowed into Chamula.  Though it is only a short drive outside San Cristobal, for many years it was closed to visitors.  It was on the last UTS global justice trip to Chiapas two years ago that one of our groups was allowed to enter for the first time.  We were invited to come to the Catholic church in Chamula by Father Pedro.  Even with the invitation, though, we had to stop by a government building to purchase passes that would allow us into the church.  We were advised to not take any pictures out of respect.  Continue reading