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The contemplation of nature

By Juanita Rojas

“Try to imagine a country that appears to govern itself by perfumes, whispers, touches and colors” Cortázar.

The massive worldwide protests last November following the Paris summit on climate change have reminded us of the seriousness of global environmental damage and the discrepancies in front of the subject. Although the most contaminating countries, the US and China, are beginning to make the first international commitments, social movements show that a large part of the population does not consider them sufficient. On a local level, the possibility remains to continue cultivating proposals for decent living between humans and nature, in spite of the fact that it often seems that the devastation is not ceasing, but getting worse.

[How climate change is impacting Guatemala]

The history of our people in Latin America is a story that for all its magical realism, is no less painful. As far as the climate is concerned, today we live the injustices of climate, being one of the least polluting regions, but one of those most affected by the effects of climate change. And, we must bear in mind that deterioration of the environment occurs in parallel to that of the social fabric, which far from bringing us closer to the fullness of life, moves us away.

Hummingbird Hill is the most important Mam Maya altar. Recovered some years ago as a sacred site by the community of Comitancillo, San Marcos, after a long history of repression of Mayan spirituality from the war, the altar confirms the momentum of a population that refuses to lose their culture and what dignifies it. A few days ago I visited this place with a group of young people that came to graduate from an art degree. Graduation did not happen in a classroom, but instead was a festive gathering full of stories of the community in their sacred place.


While we were practicing traditional greetings in recognition of the group and the hill, I felt the shared sense of joy and sensuality rise. This greeting, now mostly disappeared, included looked towards one another and giving a kiss, the hill included.

The contemplation of nature has been a fundamental part in the life of indigenous peoples. To contemplate does not mean wasting time, but tapping into the essence of the universe and each one of its manifestations: the flight of birds, the dance of fire or water, the warmth of a stone … to feel the universe with the mind, the heart and spirit. Contemplation is a form of relationship with a different kind nature than has been established in cities. Thus we kiss it, ask its permission and appreciate its existence. The ancestors say that when we feel nature we are friendlier and more open to building relationships of balance and complementarity. I believe that the vision with which each being decides to walk every day means a lot. Maybe we cannot stop the world from collapsing, but at least we will have tried to touch the country that Cortázar was imagining, and we can take that beautiful experience with us.