“Cenote”

The sun’s rays formed a circle of light from above unto the beautiful, clear, blue water of Dzibilchaltun (zee-bill-chall-tune) Cenote where I was blissfully swimming. It was not discovered until a farmer’s goat fell through the hole at the top of a field which covered it. It was not commercialized until much later. It is one of 6,000 cenotes (say-no-tays) in Yucatan, Mexico. A cenote is a sinkhole which results when limestone bedrock collapses and exposes groundwater. Since there are few rivers or lakes in Yucatan, many Mayan villages sprung up around a cenote as their source of pure rainwater filtered through layers of limestone. The most famous cenote is the one at Chichen Itza where human sacrifices were made to the rain god Chaac.

A cenote may sound like a curious metaphor for the Christian life, but it does have many interesting connections. The huge cenote at Chichen Itza has a nasty green-colored water and was a place of certain death for the human sacrifices. Whereas Dzibilchaltun has
pure, clean, blue water with sunlight streaming down upon it. The first is like the sinful, ugly life that many people choose (Rom 6:23), the second is like the life that Christ offers to those who love and obey him (Acts 2:38).

Often the living water that Jesus promised while talking to the woman at the well (Jo 4:10-14) has to go through many layers of resistance much like the limestone, before a person is convinced to accept it and drink of it. Extremely few victims escaped being tied up and dropped several feet into the dirty water of the Chichen Itza cenote. Legend says one person grabbed a log and stayed afloat and was elevated to a high position because he was spared by the god Chaac. Such a rescue is much more likely for a sinner caught in the grasp of Satan (Jas 5:20) (Jude 23).

The visitor at Dzibilchaltun is surrounded by beauty, calm and delight just as a Christian will be in heaven (Rev 21:1-4). The fate of the unrepentant sinner will be like the sacrificed victims of Chichen Itza (Rev 20:12-15). Let’s all continue to swim in the good cenote.

—Jim Bailey