On a helicopter tour over the island of Oʻahu I was able to see an area where many Aliʻi have been born known as the Birthing Stones. Much of life seems to be about birthing… being born not just once but over and over again. On entering this world we have no say in the matter. Other births… as “Calvin and Hobbs” might say “Transmogrification”… demand the involvement of our choices. (click photos)
In October of 1967 when I was 18 I chose to go into the Navy and was sent to boot-camp at the Great Lakes base. Goodbye Home, Hello World! The purpose of boot-camp is to take all sorts of individuals and mold them into a common identity. It began with a complete buzz haircut for each of us after which at least our heads all looked the same if not our hearts! Every group or family has its own history, language, customs, foods and the same is true of the Navy. During my four years in the Navy I experienced many “firsts”, each one like a small birthing into a wider awareness!
In October of 1978 I made another crucial choice in my ongoing birthing and entered the New Skete monastery, an Eastern Orthodox monastery in upstate New York famous for their breeding and raising of German Shepherds. And once again there was new language to learn, new customs as well as foods (pierogies, halupki, Tsarskaya Pascha – scroll to bottom), new theology, dog training, sausage-making. My 23 years there were my birthing into maturity.
And now I look toward yet another birthing in my life, my entrance into the family of Hawaiʻi. Knowing what becoming a new member of a family requires, I am already learning some Hawaiian language, customs, the names of important people, and slowly becoming acquainted with Hawaiian foods (poi, poke, kalua pork). I have come to appreciate that the Hawaiian understanding of spiritual realities is multi-layered, a realization that something can be many realities at the same time, the understanding that Life cannot be confined to either-or categories.
I still have seven more years of gestation until this latest birthing (in June 2019). I realize that unlike my first birth I have a say in the process! My desire when I finally arrive on Hawaiʻi’s doorstep is to be a real member of the Hawaiian family and not just a guest in the house! Until my body arrives on Hawaiʻi’s shores and my new family hānai‘s me I will continue to work on growing my Hawaiian heart!