I was told at the beginning of our homestay week that Sunday was the day people went to church. I thought nothing of it; I considered it natural for people to go to church on Sundays. Why shouldn’t people here do the same?
Over the course of this past week, I have studied Mayan culture and beliefs with my ISP mentor, attended a private Christian prayer session commemorating the deceased, attended a Mayan ceremony, and gone to church with my host family. But it was only today, in the church, that I realized the strange duality of life here. I looked at the congregation murmuring in Spanish the words I knew in English, wearing the colorful traditional clothes. Christianity and Mayan culture have had a fierce war with each other, and this is the battleground.
The people in this town wear their handwoven traditional clothes, the practice of which is millenia old, to Christian mass. They pray with a Bible written in Tzutuhil. They somehow combine their Mayan philosophy with Christianity. To me, this more than anything I have seen solidifies the millenia of history here, and the struggles that have happened in this place.
The Mayan philosophy says that opposites do not cancel each other out, but that they attract. One side cannot exist without the other. Guatemala is a perfect example, and one that gives hope for the future.