Easter Island is known for being one of the most remote places on earth. It stands 2,500 miles away from the Chilean border and 1,300 miles from its nearest neighbor. The island and its rich history have mystified the rest of the world for centuries and a couple of weeks ago, it mystified me as well. I learned that the indigenous people call the island “Rapa Nui”, a name that also describes their people, language, and religion. The Rapa Nui people believed in the power of “Mana”, a spiritual force given to them by their ancestors, which promoted harmony in all aspects of their lives. This power is what inspired them to create the giant statues called “Moai”. They embodied the Mana and projected it inland, to the Rapa Nui people. Perhaps the most confounding and impressive aspect of the Rapa Nui history is how they were able to construct and later transport these massive structures. Every historian has his own theory to explain this phenomenon, but the truth is, no one really knows.
It’s inexplicable and unfathomable truths like this that, in my opinion, tie us, humanity, together. I’ve had a reoccurring feeling since I’ve been in Latin America, the unnamable sensation of awe, confusion, smallness, wonder, disbelief, and oneness with my surroundings. I felt it staring at the glaciers in Patagonia, the ocean from my apartment balcony in Viña del Mar, the mountains in Argentina, and again on an island so isolated from the rest of the world that for centuries its inhabitants believed they were the only humans left on earth. This being said, the most valuable thing I’ve learned while studying abroad is that God and His inspiration can be seen in all and through all. In places like Patagonia, the Andes Mountains, and tropical scenes of Easter Island I felt as though I could see the strokes of His artistry. In the structures created by the Rapa Nui people, the monuments of Mendoza, and the delicate architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago I felt compelled to recognize, through their many creations, that all humans, from all walks of life, have been made in the likeness of God. Through Him, we have been given the desire to create, just as He did and continues to do.
So, thank you Easter Island, for giving me another opportunity to experience the unfathomable.
Written by Kailey Thornton [currently attending HULA]
For more information about HULA visit our website: www.harding.edu/international