For Mayans, Dec. 21, 2012 is a time of a renewal, not destruction

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CHICAGO — The madness and mayhem portrayed in previews of
the film 2012 bear no resemblance to the prophecies that Myriam
“Shuni” Giron believes will come to pass in three years.

Instead, she looks toward the end of days on her Mayan
calendar as a chance for a new beginning.

“Because we live in a world where there is so much
negativity, it’s going to be the beginning of a new time of transparency when
we’re going to be able to see each other,” she said.

Theories abound for what to expect on Dec. 21, 2012, when
the Mayan “Long Count” calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle.
The date also marks the first winter solstice in 26,000 years when the sun and
earth will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way.

Forecasts range from geomagnetic polar shifts, catastrophe
and revolution to a quantum leap in evolution or simply a return to common
sense until the next apocalyptic prediction stirs imaginations.

Giron and others believe the prophecies portend a shift of
human consciousness, an opportunity for transformation and the advent of a
golden era.

“They’re sending the wrong message,” she said,
referring to the scores of doomsday scenarios in books and in the film 2012, which opens Friday. “Mayan elders don’t teach that. …
Being Mayan is a way of life. We’re finally opening up to the world for the
wisdom to be spread.”

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As hundreds of books, documentaries and Web sites cash in on
the countdown to 2012, Chicagoans like Giron who believe ancient Mayan
spirituality offers insight are promoting positive expectations. There are
about 5 million people of Mayan descent in Central America and other parts of
the world.

Giron and Von Orthal Puppets, a puppet company in Chicago’s
Ravenswood neighborhood, are producing a play based on the Popol Vuh, or Mayan
creation story. The puppet production will debut next month in Tikal,
Guatemala, at a cultural and spiritual festival intended to usher in the new
cycle.

Meanwhile, chef Chuy Valencia has opened a popular
restaurant in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood called Chilam Balam, or
“Book of the Jaguar Priest,” referring to the prophecies about the
end of the current cycle. He purposely cooks with local ingredients, which are
printed on menus made from recycled organic materials such as corn husks and
banana leaves. His lease coincidentally ends in 2012.

“It doesn’t mean our planet is going to explode,”
Valencia said. “2012 is going to be the end of the cycle of building,
capitalism, destroying resources. 2012 is going back to being natural and
protecting the earth.”

The Rev. Denise Griebler, pastor of St. Michael’s United
Church of Christ in West Chicago, has served as a missionary among the Maya in
Mexico and Guatemala for nearly 20 years. Christians should not be focused on a
fixed date for the end of days or Second Coming foretold in the Bible, Griebler
said.

In fact, Jesus warns his disciples at least three times in
the New Testament not to dwell on a date. Pastors who follow the lectionary, a
three-year rotation of Biblical texts, preach on one of those admonishments —
Mark 13 — this weekend.

That said, she added that indigenous cultures and prophecies
can offer insight, if not direct parallels, for people of other faiths.

“Wisdom comes from different places, different
traditions,” Griebler said, referring to the expectation that 2012 will
bring a new era of respect for the planet and relationships, principles that
Christians are called to cultivate throughout their lives.

The shift of consciousness that Mayan believers anticipate
also bears remarkable similarity to the kingdom of God, or “kindom of
God,” as Griebler likes to call the human family.

The puppeteers sculpting masks and designing costumes for
the production in Guatemala next month say marking the projected end times with
a story about humanity’s beginning has been an inspiration. It has helped
connect them with their sense of spirituality, the rhythms of nature and the
rest of humanity.

“According to the Mayan, everything is in perfect
order,” Giron said. “What we’re trying to do is speed it up. This
project might be unlocking something.”

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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