Thoughts, prayers, meditations, and poems from Rev. Magdalyn Sebastian. Maggie is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is currently serving as a Staff Chaplain at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, Oregon.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
San Andres Xecul - Part II
Thursday, February 20, 2014
After spending some time at the viewpoint over San Andres Xecul, we made our way down the hill to a very unassuming home with its low doorway and worn wooden door. This was the house of the Shaman. We each paid Q5 to enter into the building to look around. The Shaman was not present.
Here was the "residence" of the "saint" Maximón . A Huffington Post article from this past October has a description which seems consistent with what Amaro told us:
He's (Maximón) revered in several towns in Guatemala's highlands. Every year in those towns, the saint's effigy is put in a different house or business. Its location isn't revealed until the morning of Oct. 28, when the faithful head to the shrine and hold a big party with plenty of alcohol and fireworks.
Maximón is seen by his followers as being able to grant both good and evil requests — from helping to yield better crops to finding love to recovering from an illness to taking revenge on an enemy. (Many lotions are used and sold for these purposes.)
A mix of wise man, healer and avenger, Maximón usually dons a cane, wears a mustache and always has a lit cigar or cigarette in his mouth.
Amaro pointed out that the spirit of Maximón is the same here or in San Andres Itzapa in Chimaltenago, Guatemala. No matter where the effigy of the saint is, the spirit is the same. Sources say that he is an adaptation of St. Simón. Others say that he has Pre-Columbian origins. Often during Holy Week, he morphs into Judas Iscariot in passion processions.
We walked through the ancient adobe home, through the courtyard to a tiny room in the back that hugged the side of the mountain. Inside there were streamers festooned across the ceiling. There were two effigy's of Maximón seated. A bed sat in the corner where one of the effigies is placed to "sleep" for the night. Another room off to the right was where the shaman stayed. A center table held smaller effigies of the saint. On the floor and table were lit candles as well as offerings of fruit for Maximón's consumption.
It was a strange space to be in, but the feeling of holiness swept over me. Not my beliefs. Not my understanding of how the world works, but holy ground.
The holy feeling continued when I entered the church a little while later. Women were chanting the rosary on their knees in front of the altar. Bended knee on hard ground. Singing. The spirit of faith washing over other worshippers an us northern visitors. The ancient statuary in the nooks of the church were mostly protected behind glass. The dress was not traditional by Western standards. I found the combination of experiences overwhelming and emotional.
Leaving the town, I was positioned in the front of the pick-up truck. Chill wind blew through my hair (left my Cardinal hat on the pew in the church), a physical experience of the Spirit washing over me. She reminded me that she blows all through creation, all through the world. She blows in the mountains of Guatemala, caressing the people as they struggle daily. She blows in small towns in Oregon, caressing the people as they struggle daily. She caresses the privileged and the oppressed. She caresses us all, whispering love. Thanks be to God.