The hot Mexican air was thick with a humidity that seemed to climb into our lungs and cling to our skin. The vibrant green jungle--with it's gnarly trees and twisting vines--was so dense I could not see beyond the first line of foliage that hugged the road.
We walked. The trees parted. And that was when I saw it...
The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, which is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Chichen Itza was once one of the most powerful cities of the deeply spiritual and ritualistic Maya. For nearly 1,000 years it flourished as the Mayan civilization built it--brick by painstaking brick--with their hands, their sweat, their blood. The ancient city and the people have a rich history, fraught with remarkable triumphs and successes as well as horrific tragedy.
Chichen Itza thrived until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century A.D. As Spanish priests made their way into the city, they saw the sacrifices and the rituals of the Mayan culture as a sign of savagery. When they attempted to "save their souls" and convert the people to their Catholic faith, the Mayans essentially said, "No thanks."
Retaliation for the dismissal of the faith came in so many devastating ways. The one that profoundly struck a chord with me? The burning of all the Mayan books.
I am a lover of literature, a proponent of reading, and a seeker of knowledge. I treasure my favorite and most beloved books in a way akin to one who locks their most precious gems in a safe. I am a devote reader and a passionate writer. I have always, always been a journal keeper; jotting down my hopes and fears and secrets in pretty little notebooks. I am a believer in reading the stories of others. I am a believer in the validity of my own personal story. Mine matters. (And yours matters.)
It is estimated that almost 5,000 books were burned. 5,000 stories. Precious information that would have given us insight into a people who lived during a time in history that our minds can barely imagine. It is beyond sad to me.
Three books remain. God bless the man who had the foresight to hide those books.
Blessedly (and another fact that resonates strongly with me), we have pictures carved in stone. Pictures that help scholars identify what was sacred and important to the Mayan people. Pictures that are able to tell the story where the words are missing.
Pictures are priceless. They are an important piece to the whole of our histories. Oftentimes they speak when words can't. They say, I was here. I saw. I did. I lived.
Inspired by the Mayans of old, I did the only thing an obscure woman from little ol' Utah could do upon arriving home... I went to my computer, I uploaded the pictures from my Mexican vacation, and I printed them out. I didn't wait until a month later, or year later, as I usually do! I printed them within days.
The pictures are going into an album I look forward to having. I look forward to sharing it with my children. In fine lines, in shadows and light, in colorful images, in crisp detail, they tell a part of my story.
How will you tell yours?
Make it tangible.
Keep it forever.