I’m in Peru, touring sacred sites before cruising the Amazon while the cat sitter deals with our “puma” in the States. (Good luck with that.)
A month before I left, our paper announced the visit of a Q’ero shaman (also known as medicine man or elder) from a village 17,000 feet high in the Peruvian Andes. Q’ero descend from Incas, segregated from the world an arduous two-day bus and foot journey from Cusco. His evening presentation and full-day workshop were perfect for experiencing research for the third manuscript.
Q’ero Pasqual Apasa Flores (phonetic) was dressed like the photo’s suede-hatted men, with chu’llu hat and poncho. His head reached below my sternum; he was the size of an eight-year-old child. Obsidian eyes lacked discernible pupils, the whites putty-colored. An Incan hooked nose, symbol of royalty, dominated a face that seldom smiled. His gentle nature was apparent, and I witnessed his performance of a Ban of Protection and Healer Rite. Throughout my observance of shamanic ritual, he shared his peoples’ culture and terminology. Mother earth is Pachamama.
I am Christian. Overtly so, with a graduate degree from a well-respected seminary. However, my belief doesn’t prevent me from learning about others’, like seminary’s Hebrew Religion in its Ancient Near Eastern Context class. More than one raised eyebrow greeted my plans to attend Pasquale’s presentation, and more than once during my time with him I reminded myself the Holy Spirit indwells me.
I didn’t change Q’ero Pasquale’s life, nor he mine. But because I took the time to learn, I’m travelling Peru with a different understanding of what I see, like Paul speaking from Athen’s Mars Hill. The apostle tailored his message to the Athenians, noting their worship of and statue to an unknown god before sashaying right into YHWH God as source of everything — uncontainable. Paul was an informed Christian, one who met his listeners where they stood.
I aspire to travel as wisely as Paul.