... and then, at 6:00 in the morning, they opened the gates. We were probably about twenty people back from the front of the slow-moving line, and as it inched forward, I felt within myself a swelling sense of excitement. Despite all of my apprehension that had been accumulating over the course of the previous couple of days, I was starting to get anxious. We arrived to the front of the line and showed our documents. Then, we walked through the turnstile and hustled up a hill. I should mention here that from this part of the site, nothing is really visible. The entrance gates are behind a small hill and underneath a tree-canopy that prevents any of the actual site to be seen.
So, as we walked through the turnstile and up the small hill that blocked our view, I started to sense that something amazing was happening. We rounded a corner and there before us was the most amazing sight that I have ever beheld. Ancient brick stacked on brick, settled neatly into green grass fields and terraced staircases; mountains in panorama, dropping thousands of feet on either side; determined fog lifting slowly from the buildings, only to be softly replenished by the steady, swirling morning wind. It was beautiful. I mean that. It was the most beautiful place I had ever been. But, the thing that knocked me back, that broke down my stoic countenance and filled me full of the sweet lightness of being was the silence. That place, all immense and ancient, was silent. There was not a sound from the wookies or the hippies or the whiney college girls. No one dared challenge the sacredness of that place. All was still that bright and blossoming morning. My heart was still. We hurried up a flight of antiquated steps to get a higher vantage point; each precipice revealing a new perspective; a new set of buildings, a new neighborhood in that ancient city. The sheer immensity of it made me feel every bit of the history that it had survived. I could see the ancient caravans arriving to the city gate, full of Incan pilgrims arriving to pay their respects to the royalty that occupied the houses. I could see children running though the cobblestone streets, naked and free. I could see the terraces full of crops, and the old and bent villagers working the fields. It was alive, and I could see it. I felt young, I felt connected, I felt small; but a good small. I felt like my life was just a part of this eternal story that has been woven in and out of the millennia. I felt insignificant, but in a submissive way; like I could rest from all of the little problems that I convince myself I have. God is real, and I could not deny that for a second. It was freeing. I'm not in control of my own destiny. The outcome of my life isn't dependent on how hard I work to become something or to earn my value or to deserve love. I am something, I am valuable, I am loved. There, at Machu Picchu, I felt the full weight of my freedom, of my value. It was awesome.
The novelty didn't and hasn't worn off. We walked through the different parts of the city, climbed the Huaynu Picchu (the adjacent mountain,) eavesdropped on several tours, etc. There were a lot of really fascinating pieces that made up the ancient village, but the beauty of that place sticks with me more than anything; that feeling of being small yet entirely significant. He makes all things new. He is constantly in the process of making all things new. I am being made new, and I could feel that process active as I stood in awe of Machu Picchu.