Tomás who each Monday morning arrives in his little truck with my 19 liters of bottled water, usually tarries at the gate for 20 minutes or so, chatting. Though typically I don't care for smalltalk, I do look forward to Tomás's ramblings not only because he's a friend but because his stories provide insights into the surrounding small-town Maya culture -- everything from which traditional meals are prepared for what festival, to how young men and women make contact with one another and get their business done.

This Monday I heard a lot about Easter -- a whole month of it. I lost count of all the events in the Christian calendar Tomás told me must be celebrated, and all the times folks here are expected to go to Mass, to fast, to feast, to watch a fellow lugging a heavy cross down the street, to get ashes on the forehead, etc.

I'm not at all against celebrations. In fact, I believe that an enlightened society properly sensitized to the beauties and mysteries around it would insist on many more holidays and celebrations than we have now.

The problem is that humanity has let its storekeepers and religionists decide on what's to be celebrated, and how. Thus the exquisite celestial event consisting of the Earth shifting on its axis so that the Winter Solstice arrives and days begin growing longer has been supplanted by Christmas with its over-the-top merchandizing and self-indulgences. And now when spring's rebirth of nature and all its living things should be celebrated with even more joy and ceremony than Tomás can visualize, there's all this Easter to-do.

I do believe that someday humanity will get its celebrating philosophies figured out. However, I fear that that time won't come until the most fragile and therefore the most exquisite of physical wonders are destroyed by human overexploitation of Nature, and by wars wrought mostly by religious fanatics.

But, someday, a chastened and wiser (a further evolved) humanity will find itself starting over from within the vast rubble field of Earth. Then we shall abandon childish mythologies and unthinking traditions, and begin celebrating those things truly and self-evidently much more mysterious, majestic and worthy of awe and adoration than what we celebrate now.

I wish I could participate in a future "Mystery of the Germinating Seed Week," highlighted by ceremoniously sowing useful and ornamental plants in gardens and indoor trays. "Welcome to Migrating Birds Week" will be celebrated with singing festivals and parades where the young-at-heart can strut and be flamboyant like the birds being welcomed. What a powerful moment it could be if bonfires were lit and prayers of thanks offered worldwide at the exact moment when the Winter Solstice arrives, and what a rip-snorting festival there could be to celebrate summer in all its gorgeous vitality, with fireworks and picnics on the day of the Summer Solstice.