Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sacred everyday, and the gift of handwriting

I was in town yesterday in and out of the post office, into the local coffee shop and community gathering place where Pete and I are planning to play Konane; meeting and greeting my neighbors and friends who were strangers to me three years ago. Several things needed doing at the post office: a card and letter of condolence needed to be written to my family back on O'ahu -- my aunty passed last Monday; another card to my son's girl friend in France needed a message written and a stamp ($1.10 for a snail mail communication); and finally a piece of mail needed to be forwarded to my son. After paying cash for the postage to France the woman helping me asked, "You're from Hawaii aren't you?" It's been a while since I've been asked that. I said "Yes," and was asked the often accompanying question, "It's quite a change for you, isn't it?' Sometimes, the pair of questions will unwind stories I wish to keep untold preferring to soothe my newly retrained amygdala from inciting a riot of fears and regrets. It really does me no good to light that old fire. Yesterday my mood and my sense of well-being were gently living within me and I chatted with the kind and helpful woman telling enough my story to become a little more known to her. We talked of Pele and the reality of the vog as an issue for me, and many others, who cannot tolerate The Goddess' inevitable magnificence. The making of new 'aina (land) is a powerful responsibility and she, The Goddess takes her kuleana very seriously. Reminders of why I can no longer live on the islands of my birth are present daily; bittersweet acceptance is something I embrace with a tender hand. My heart is bound to those islands and yet I remain inseparable wherever I am ... I know that today as I've not known as a younger woman.

The late October skies and temperature have taken on that cloak of grey wool. It is damp here in the woods as I sit next to the heat with layers of ankle length coverings, a scarf around my neck and an ancient purple sweater. Yesterday in town where the Tall Ones have been cleared for the shops and services that make Langley a sweet to know village, sun warmed me as I sat in the Subaru to write my cards and letter. I recall the feeling of ... what? anticipation as I sat with the pen and three blank pages (cards, a letter) to fill with my handwritten messages. Photographs taken by my friend and turned into cards gave me the visual inspiration to draw words together and scratch them with pen; practicing that craft I have loved since a girl. I wrote stories from scratch and left on the blank page a part of my yesterday.

The first card was written to my uncle(and his children) who grieve the loss of his partner and love of seventy years, and mother who lived to be in her mid-eighties. The photograph I chose for my family was a view of Deception Pass in the fog. Shot off a tri-pod my friend told me it was the last shot of the day and a tri-pod was new to her. The image was sublime in greys, the Deception Pass Bridge linking the grand flood of water below. Almost un-noticed but present in the left lower corner of the photo were leaves of a shrub or tree nearest the camera when MK took the shot. The present -- more dense, deeper and close. Inside I wrote to say we here were with them in spirit, and feel the loss with them across the way. Precisely what I wrote? I don't remember. The second card was written and sent to Granville, France on the coast of Normandie. This protograph was of a "hold fast" a fist size ocean rock at a low tide with glossy sea lettuce flowing from it. Held fast to the rock the two were one. There were thoughts and feelings to share with this young woman who wears my mother's jade and garnet ring. Leaving etchings of my hand on the card bound for Granville I could tell her something about me and my family as the letters connected. The third writing was done on a sheet of note paper with a drawing of a papa kui'ai (poi board) with eight different types of pohaku kui'ai (poi pounders). Onto this sheet of paper I wrote a letter to my uncle filling both sides. I had meant to enclose the letter with the card of Deception Pass, but I had sealed that card. Sometimes the universe and the Muse of Pens will intervene and it is those sometimes that enforce the sacredness of the everyday. Into a separate envelope went my uncle's letter. It was written for him alone.

As I age my comfort with pain changes. The heart ache of pain is as real as a sip of tea still too hot to drink; I love the drink but know sometime waiting is best. It's that way for me when I wish I could be _______ and yet know waiting or releasing is best. I allow myself limited visitations to memories and websites/blogs that present a view of Hawaii that is difficult. One of those blogs is that of Joan Conrow, writer, blogger and nature lover who lives on the island of Kauai. I made my once every several months vist to Conrow's Kauai Eclectic and discovered she has a second blog called Kauaipiko, or PIKO. This post was inspired originally by my visit to Conrow's blogs and in particular this essay from PIKO called "The Sacred and The Profound." (The entire essay is deep and provocative exemplifying the reason I visit Joan Conrow's writing only when I am strong enough to eat it.)

Conrow began her essay-article with this:

"There was a period, last November, when unremitting lightning brought day to the night skies over windward Kauai, as thunder boomed, cracked and rolled. Brisk winds swept in rains so heavy and insistent that streets ponded, mud slid and streams rose, flooding buildings, forcing evacuations, closing bridges and breaking water lines. When it was over, Mayor Bernard Carvalho surveyed the damage and issued a disaster proclamation.

The dramatic display by the elements coincided–though Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua would say it was no coincidence — with an aha hoano, a sacred ceremony, that she and other cultural practitioners were engaged in at the mouth of the Wailua River, whose source is Waialeale, the wettest spot on Earth...
I sat and read Conrow's blog describing the sacred and profound displays that go on over and over across the Earth; and witness the duality of language and words' influence on the whole. The great floods on Kauai, the "disaster proclamation" juxtaposed with Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua's words of an aha hoano, a sacred ceremony describe the same event. Yet, the story that rivets the memory of most? More than likely, the disaster put upon the streets, buildings bridges and water lines will fill more print. What I was given after reading PIKO was the Universe, my 'aumakua, my collective resources who reminded me to be the cultural practitioner I am in the sacred everyday, everywhere I am. Play games, play music and remember to play from the piko and practice protocol where all things connect.

Many thanks to Terri Windling for the inspiration to value the gift of handwriting, written as she is recovering from flu today, Thursday, October 18, 2012.


  1. This is so warm and true, Mohikana. Thanks for pointing the way.

    This bit - "when I wish I could be _______ " - made me sit up straight in my chair! I'm going to have to think on that one. Because it's not the thing you wish to be, is it? It's the act of wishing [something else].

  2. Mahalo for your beautiful, heart-felt post, Mokihana, and for being willing to share the essence of you with others. I'm honored that you not only visit my blog, but are willing to "eat it." I've appreciated your comments over the years. They always affect me like a gentle touch of rainbow-infused mist, a shaft of sunlight beaming out of the clouds.


Speak from the heart