Seven days ago I flew with my husband to Quintana Roo, where the wind blows off the sea onto the great expanse of sun drenched land, filled with palm trees and exotic flowers. The sun and sea and quiet were to help make me well again.
Rain had been predicted off and on all week and the sky was overcast as we landed, but it came only on the second day when we walked through the puddle filled streets of Playa Del Carmen.
In spite of the forecast, the weather was sunny and fair all week, and our feet are now burned across the tops from daily walks along the shore. The wind was lovely and strong, enticing the salt water to bring its healing as only salt can.
I am well into my first year of weekly low dose chemo injections with two to four years yet ahead of me. This is to keep my overactive T lymphocytes from attacking the deep layers of my skin and joints. I’m not thrilled about sticking the needle into my thigh each week and uncertain about what the future holds, but it is making me feel better. I have found that when I remember to thank God first for providing good care, the needle doesn’t hurt.
I had plenty of time to soak in the light with His Love Letter and continued on through Numbers. I found myself either frustrated by the complaining Israelites or relating to them. How many times do the Israelites speak against God in their disbelief saying, Why have you brought us up out of Egypt only to leave us to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food! And how many times have I questioned the place God has brought me and complained about what I don’t have?
And then how many times did the Lord say to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid’, and delivered him.
We walked through the lands of the Mayan ruins in Tulum with Martine, our guide, who spoke of the religious leaders’ fascination with the cosmos and their advanced astronomy. They believed in one supreme creator god and also believed in many god-like spirits in nature and tried to please those spirits. I thought that could become as exhausting as people pleasing. I am grateful to have one God to please and am working hard to let go of my tendency to please everyone.
After our time surrounded in Mayan history it was a gift to meet our young Mayan waiter, Carlos. He told us that he is often homesick for his Mayan upbringing and visits his parents in Chichen Itza often, where much of the underground Mayan history has been excavated. As we ate dinner, he shared how his mother prepared their family dinners underground with the slow method of cooking over rocks heated by wood fires. The large dutch oven-like skillet was covered with banana leaves to hold in the warmth of the beautifully spiced meals she served her family of five, who lived together in one room with hammocks.
We parted that evening using our new Mayan vocabulary: Niib oolal (thanks), maybe the most important word in any culture. And Mix bool (you’re welcome) doesn’t hurt to have handy either.
Perhaps it was the words from Carlos’s heart that inspired dreams of my own family that night. The young man’s love for his parents triggered mine. I could feel their presence and see the farm I grew up on so vividly I had to sit up in bed and catch my breath. The details of the small mound beside a crooked little tree stood before me. I had been told it held buried within it Native American bones. My own heritage. The remnants of my past run through the halls of my memories like redeemed ruins, guiding me into the present moment and I stop to say, Niib oolal.
Each day we walked through the sand and cool water for hours until we were too sunburned, and then walked the surrounding area in the shade.
Todd didn’t see a single fish all week but I ate fish every day. We saw the moon rise and watched the sun rise twice.
We thought we would be saying goodbye to Quintana Roo on Monday but after a five hour wait at the airport, our flight was cancelled. Maybe my heart needed one more day in the “School of Belief”. And just in case I had any trouble, I think God painted a picture, as if to say,
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Niil oolal, Abba.