"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time. You understand now why you came this way." So goes the lyric from the song of the same name by Crosby, Stills and Nash.*
The Souther Cross. It is displayed on a number of flags of nations
of the Southern Hemisphere even a soccer club in Brasil.
We only recently saw the Southern Cross for the first time in Lima. Some are disappointed when they see it. We were not. I thought about many peoples over the millennia who have looked into the sky and wondered about it as I. Of course I was not on a raft or a boat using it for navigation purposes. From one astronomy site the host paraphrased the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke this way: "If you are bored by the constellation Crux, you are not yet poet enough to call forth its riches." Astronomical alignments and stargazing were one of the preeminent pastimes of the Andeans and ancient peoples everywhere. Other than my friend Watson I know few who look into the night time sky with direction and purpose. Farmers in the mountains of Peru still gaze into the heavens to determine coming weather cycles for planting their crops. They do so with an accuracy equal to or better than KSL's Weatherbank meteorologists.
|The Chakana as it is crafted by Peruvian artisans in silver and precious stones|
Stargazing was important enough for God to take Moses to a high mountain and show him the handiwork of his creation, heavens without number or end... from Moses Chapter 1:
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
The Crux, as it is generally called, was captured by the Inca as an important symbol in their religious life in the symbol known as the Chakana. At sunset the Chakana stone in Machu Picchu casts a shadow completing the Crux or cross. This symbol represented to the Inca, the current world in which we live, the underworld, and the heavenly world where the gods dwell. The Chakana symbolizes, with its 12 sides among other things, the ethics of the Inca. They were: "I live, I work, I love," as well as "Don't lie, don't steal, and don't be lazy." They had in many respects an enviable world prior to the coming of the Europeans.
|The Chakana stone at Machu Picchu. When the shadow is correct at sunset the |
cross is complete.
The weather of Lima has been unusual and on the warm side this fall. Typically the city is enveloped in a foggy mist known as garua. This occurs during the six cooler months of any year. No rainfall occurs generally this time though we have experienced unusual rains and heavy on several occasions. We had contemplated getting into the mountains above Lima to do some stargazing. At last we were able to see the Crux here and on multiple nights.
|A view from our apartment window|
We don't know with a certainty why we came this way to Peru for these past 19 months. The experience has been a profound one. We have learned a great deal about the early history of this incredible land. I have learned about life and love. We have gained a much deeper appreciation and respect for Peruvians. Yes, two attempts have been made, only recently, to snatch my IPhone, but even those episodes were carefully choreographed and almost executed with success.
Our dear friend Sister Rosa. Her diligence for and joy of
working in the temple is an example for all of us. Her life
is a very simple and humble one. She makes do with very
little but she is one of the richest people we know.
We have seen beautiful sites and shared them with family and friends. We have been touched and affected by the poverty and sacrifice of Peruvian members of the Church with whom we work daily. We know of folks who put health and security at risk to ride long distances on noisy and uncomfortable buses to come to the temple to work or to participate. In doing so they sometimes go without food, lunch, or supper for a day to be here. We see some of these folks in the worker's cafeteria enjoying their simple fare, a cup of water, maybe a piece of fruit, or a hard roll
|Our friends the Cooks at Machu Picchu, February of 2011|
With la familia Espinosa. They prepared a special feast for us. It probably
broke their budget for groceries for a month. The pachamanca as it is
known included several varieties of meat, tamales, potatoes, beans,
humitas, and choclo or corn.
Without any question the highlight of our experience here has been the friends we have made. We seem to have an affinity for taxi drivers, their families, in addition to our friends in the temple. It is with some hope that in 3 or 4 years when the next temple is opened in Trujillo Peru, health and other considerations allowing, we can return.
|My friend and my brother Cesar|
We miss everyone at home, kids, grandkids, family, and friends. Were it not for all of you, as I have suggested to RA on more than one occasion, I could spend the rest of my days in Peru. Likely, it would be in Cusco, Trujillo, or Arequipa rather than Lima however.
|Thanks Kyle for introducing Peru into our family|
|A few tired touristas in Machu Picchu August 2011|
Maybe one day we will understand why we came this way... *Thanks Em for the connection to the song by Crosby Stills and Nash.