Saturday, January 31, 2009

SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY is happening ... Part of the writing project focused on VALUE

Here is an exception to my usual practice of not posting on an`Ole Day ... a story worth telling ... nothing new ... something that simply needs to be remembered in time to be part of a fun group writing project.

The Earth is bubbling, quaking under her skin are the rumblings of new earth. Not far from our little apartment in Seattle, Mt. Redount, an Alaskan volcano is shaking things up. Just where she will take that volcanic activity ... perhaps the vulcanologists can predict. In whatever form, that volcano is stirring the ALL THAT IS. Of course, the four-legged know the Earth is talking, they have never lost the ability to hear and feel Mother. My cat knows it, she is hunkered down under a flannel blanket atop a woolen sweater. Some of the two-legged ones know the Earth is talking as well, and we don't watch the television or listen to much radio news. The problem with my 'knowing' is I don't tune into the translation of the signals as exquisitely as my kitty.


Something extraordinary is happening and it has a lot to do with knowing the value of inter-connectedness. One of my recent most favorite people is Leonardo Boff. I began reading his work and then started writing about him just this week on Makua O`o. He has inspired me with the simple reminder of the INNER ECOLOGY of all living being. As a Hawaiian, I have an ancient memory of this INNER ECOLOGY and connection to ALL that is. The culture of my mother's people have always respected the nature of living in everyone from bug, to spider, shark and my Green Bay born husband. And yet, the limiting and confining beliefs about myself during my life turned that respect, the unquestioning truth that in the natural world everyone 'speaks' the same language, to fear of being without VALUE.

A Short Hawaiian People's history

Perhaps a Hawaiian People's history lesson could shed some light. I recall from memory parts of this history of Hawaii in the Old Times. (I acknowledge and mahalo the family storytellers Koko Willis and Pali Jai Lee from the island of Molokai who collected the mana`o of their kupuna ... elders, and wrote the book Tales of the Night Rainbow translating mana`o into these valuable teachings. Mahalo nui loa kakou.)

`Aina ... that which feeds you

In times long past, this island was rich and abundant with life. `Aina in Hawaiian means "land" and it means more than that. `Aina means that which feeds you, and this is where the real story begins. In the Old Times, people lived in simple fashion from the ocean's shore to the top of the rain-drenched mountains. The people of the ocean fished, harvested limu (sea vegetables) and dried ocean water to make pa`a kai (sea salt) for seasoning and preservation. Everyone in the sea knew everyone on the shore. There was a kinship, a respect for life. Ke Kai, The Ocean, is one of the many gods Hawaiian acknowledge, respect and honor. Through the days and nights the Kanaka (the human) respected the cycles of high and low tide, calm and rough waters. Their knowing made it possible to fish, harvest, au` au bathe and enjoy swimming, surfing and canoeing with ease. With respect, all life was at ease.

Respect and ease

The same respect and ease happened along the paths upland, ma`uka in the mountains. Farmers used the natural slope of the land to channel rainway into drainage ditches `au wai, and the raised beds of taro, lo`i kalo (taro patches) were tended by hand and watered by the rain. The forrests of koa and other woods were respected for it was they who housed the birds, and the birds were the messengers. When it was time to choose a fitting tree to cut and carve into an ocean-ready canoe, the birds would know which tree was solid and which one was riddled with tree-eating bugs ... ono (delicious food for birds, peck, peck). As with the ocean people, when the `ole days of the moon shone, the farmer rested the land, weeded the lo`i and made offerings to the Gods.

Noticing and attending

Within every aha, or community, the elders maintained the teachings of harmonious living, and passed the knowledge along to those in the family who paid attention. The elders noticed everything, and were at ease with that knowing. Everyone had a place in the aha, no one was of more or less value. A child who was especially attention to the changing positions of the stars was no less valued than the other who could pound taro (nutritious corms) for hours without tiring. A child's natural inclinations were noticed and nurtured. And every child, every person was loved.

In this setting the life of the visible nurturance and the invisible were no difference. The protection and guidance of those who were no longer in the body, were now 'aumakua, spirit guardian. `Aumakua took many forms and in many cases families had special `aumakua. The bond did not change when someone no longer had a physical body. Most, or at least many, continued to see, hear and could travel between the planes in the Old Times.

VALUE or WAI WAI was in the being

The land, ocean, heavens (air and rain) and the beings on land and ocean and heavens had VALUE simply in their being. From that unquestioned value, the people worked. Food was gathered from the ocean, or grown in beautifully kept fish ponds; land vegetables were grown, cooked, preserved. What the fisherfolk gathered, they shared with the planter. No one went to sleep hungry, as long as respect for the ocean and land was maintained. There were 'ole nights, times during which the moon indicated rest for the ocean and the ground was indicated. Thanksgiving happened regularly, not only once a year.

Harmony ... pono

This system of pono, or harmony also came with a very different sense of 'enoughness'. In other words there was very little surplus or extra food or 'stuff' in a community of pono. Instead, there was VALUE in knowing the fisherman could fish, the kahuna (priest/healer) would care for the woman who was bleeding from the rectum, and the children would be loved. All would be loved, listened to, VALUED. HAVING was undefinable. OWNING not a word in the language. LOVE was everything and that is the word ALOHA.

This Hawaii, this world of pono existed prior to the arrival of the Tahitian, according to the teachings. With the Tahitian came a distinction between being and having. VALUE became a thing counted by the color of your skin, the quality of your clothing, and the number of people you could control. It was the great HEWA, the great fall as many myths recount a change from GODliness.

The essence of my story is not in the fall that came with the Tahitian, for I know many will question that thesis. It doesn't matter to the telling though. The point of the story is the VALUE of connectedness that began this tale. There is a volcano stirring not far from us here in Seattle, and many other volcanoes heat up all over The Mother. As contemporary society rumbles from the cycles of illusionary surplus and greed, the same language that has always been used on The Earth is even more important today. In the language of ALOHA, love for everyone makes surplus and greed valueless. In recalling and remembering the VALUE of being good at who I am, I do my very best work; maker of pies, grower of succulent strawberries, comforter of loss souls, tinker and builder, storyteller everyone receives exactly what they need. There is enough and it spreads miraculously.

I recently celebrated my 61st birthday last November. Yesterday I received a brand new-to-the-Earth soul, that is an occasion to celebrate. It is never too late to be born again to the language of VALUE that has little to do with how much surplus I count as mine. A brand new soul has nothing to compare Earth life to except for today. Everything is possible. What a fantastic state of being. What VALUE does that have to my friends, my family, my potential community? How would you VALUE a new born human being? I watched a beautiful grandmother answering her grand-daughter's question, "Will I be re-born a human?" The old one took a handfuls of rice and a long needle, and told her grand-daughter, "Now pour the rice over the needle, and tell me when you see one balance on the needle's tip." The little one did as she was told. At last she told grandmother, "That's impossible." There ... that's the answer, as impossible as it may seem we are here, life is precious and connected to ALL THAT IS.

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