ophe's promise

something akin to a sketch pad

moon phases
Location: Hawaii, United States

one of my favorite quotes: Be Humble for you are made of earth; Be Noble for you are made of stars.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Connections with Animals

This morning, a tom turkey and his four wives visited the yard. The hens were busy gobbling up the chicken scratch that had been put out earlier. Tom, though, was in a romantic mood. He peered in through the sliding glass door at me and then puffed his entire feathers out and began a courting dance....not for the benefit of his hens, but for me! He had no interest in the corn feed nor in his harem; he persisted with this show of his glory for several minutes.........hmmmmm, I think, "what am I going to do with a large Tom turkey who has misplaced his affections?"

It reminded me of another incident, several years ago, back on the east coast of the mainland, where I lived. One summer evening, I went out onto the front steps to gaze at whatever stars may be peeping through the haze and to listen to the sounds of the night. There, just a few steps from me sat a large toad. I sat motionless and stared at the toad. The toad made no move to leave; he simply returned my stare. This went on for several minutes, neither of us moving, but staring, one at the other; a kind of silent cross-species communication, I considered. How wonderful and marvelous this silent affinity. Finally, my patience and interest ebbed. I moved to go back inside and the toad hopped away into the grass. When I related this incident to a friend, he told me, "Silly Ruth, the toad sees movement, not the shadow of your form. He didn't even see you until you moved!" ohhhhh....so much for my meaningful moment with a toad (grin).

And today's Tom Turkey Courtship? Well, it didn't take me too long to realize that it wasn't me he was courting; rather his own glorious reflection in the glass of the sliding door!

Ahhhhh, the vanity of one's reflections.....narcissus eternal.

Monday, December 27, 2004

moments of silence are part of the music Posted by Hello

Friday, December 24, 2004

There are no justified resentments

My sister had not spoken to my father in years. She blamed him as a sort of accomplice to her problems and was punishing him with her silence and her absence. I guess she was punishing herself as well. He never blamed her for what seemed to some an unjustified anger and resentment. He had very little to say about the situation; he only said, "She's had a hard life." We were all grateful for both their sakes when she decided to visit him, just before he died. Happy to see Carol smiling and happy that Dad recognized her; happy that it wasn't too late.

I've debated with my own children whether there is such a thing as a justified resentment. Maura says, "oh, but what if someone murdered a member of your family? That would be so evil. Resentment is justified then!" My feeling is that resentment would be a natural emotion in such a case, but must be purged. Otherwise, the crime is perpetuated. The constant reflection upon it keeps it alive, continues to give power to it; it becomes a poison to the soul. It can grow and multiply there, as a seed in new soil.

Forgiveness does not mean that there is no evil, or that one permits evil to exist. Rather, for me, it means acknowledging it and then releasing it, let it go, let it go. A kind of polishing of the mirror of the heart.....

Remember the Bowl of Light? Empty the bowl of the stones and allow the light room to shine. We don't need the stones...... (smile)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

My father died in November of this year. He was 89 years old, had been afflicted with Parkinson's Disease as well as a kind of dementia for over a year; he finally succumbed to pneumonia (the gift to the aged). His death was not unexpected and in many ways a blessed ending to his physical and mental trials. Nevertheless, I grieve.

We receive no training in how to attend to the dying; I held his hand, wiped his brow, prayed, and mostly just sat by his side, wishing that I KNEW what he might need from me and how to ease his way. His last words to me were very out of character. I always knew I was his beloved daughter; his delight in all his children and grandchildren was always evident. And so I was shocked, when seeing him struggle to lift both arms and with great effort speak these words, "Go away!". Perhaps he didn't recognize me, perhaps he mistook me for an unwelcome spirit, perhaps, even, he was seeing the Angel of Death in the space near me. More likely, I was guilty of too much "hovering" and "interference". I've tried to forget the moment, but cannot. After all, these were his last spoken words, those words that are expected to carry a meaning beyond the grave? For now, I consider that death is, after all, a very private and solitary moment; no matter how well attended one is by loved ones and/or compassionate care-givers, the moment is one in which the living cannot truly participate.

I expect there will be many more memories of my father appearing in this blog. He left a large legacy of character, decency, and love, to be sure.

I hope that this entry does not in any way tarnish his dignity or legacy and apologize if my words have in any way offended.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The surf is up on the Big Island. Swimmers beware, only surfers dare. Small craft advisories. Many go to the shore to observe the pounding and feel the spray - catch the images on their cameras..... and yes, I'm one of those drawn to the sea on days like these.

Yesterday's impressions were that of Grief. I was reminded of men and women, throwing themselves upon the caskets of their beloved ones; a kind of fury that finds no consolation............only finding respite after utter exhaustion. This is no quiet resigned grief; it has the power of the human at its most primal. A woman, at the moment of giving birth, yells her power.....a man roars in his moment of triumph and victory......and so we all do in our grief.....yesterday, the ocean carried our voices.

Christmas time is considered the season of Joy, a time for Giving, a time of Gratitude for the Child's birth. For many, it is more a reminder of loss. Yesterday, the ocean gave her gift to me; it was Compassion

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Queen's Bath near Kiholo Bay Posted by Hello

The Reflecting Pool

I gaze upon the mirror waters,
the leaves reflected dimly as silhouettes,
upon a liquid sky,
but no person is there.
Who is that woman
whose voice is a constant chattering companion?
She is not to be seen there,
nor am I;
I wish she would hush,
if only for a moment.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Speaking to Strangers

Yesterday's afternoon walk took us down a gravel single-lane road towards Kealakekua Bay (the infamous location of Captain Cook's demise). While Hawaii has been carved up into private parcels, public access to the shoreline is protected by law. Many of the public access paths are marked and many are discreetly "hidden". The road taken yesterday is one of those "discreet" ones. The entrance is a padlocked gate (access is by a small opening next to the gate) and there are no signs posted. This particular path is known to locals; the rule being that one behaves as a guest when passing through. As long as one respects the boundaries of private property, you are free to swim, surf, fish, sunbathe, scavange for sea shells and coral, whatever, once at the shore. (Overnight camping is frowned upon, though.) The walk is an easy one, probably less than a mile over even terrain. Once at the shore, there are some wonderful views of the bay (yesterday we sighted a whale). You can continue walking along the rocky beach, up to and around the southern point of the bay, where many tidal pools brimming with life are to be found. On occasion, there may be a few surfers in the bay. It's always fun to admire their grace and skill with the surf. The sunset can be a beautiful spectacle, too. An added plus, as the gravel road is not widely known, visitors to this particular area of the shoreline are few. It's rare to encounter anyone along the path; occasionally one of the residents of the few homes nearby may drive by.

Yesterday, a pickup truck slowly approached and stopped when it reached us. The driver, unknown to us, a middle-aged local man with a longish white beard, leaned out the truck window, smiled and asked, "Where are you guys from?" "Oh, we live in Kona." "Oh, then, you're here getting your exercise?" "Yes, this is one of our favorite places to walk and visit. Is that okay?" "Oh yes", he replied, "I love you". (yes, that's just what he said)

He was about to drive off and I thought to ask him, "Where do you come from? Do you live here?" His quiet response, "I come from my mother...."
I gave him a little playful pat on the arm and a smile. "What a coincidence, I come from my mother, too. What is your name?", I asked.

"I am Gentle", his reply, "......Ben, that is". I introduced us by our names and he then continued on his way....... Just one of those sweet encounters that seem to happen often here..... a good example of the nature of these people I love. Needless to say, that brief encounter with that "stranger" lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.

Oh, and by the way, Gentle, I think I forgot to say, "I love you, too!"

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Writing is proving to be a difficult exercise for me, but a worthy one, I believe. Many years past my school days, my writing has become undisciplined and/or formulaic. (For years, my primary writing was in the form of business letters - eegk! Little room for creativity but it does force one to condense the message into a very concise format) Writing demands of one to crystallize ideas and thoughts into a cogent form - it's an organizing technique. For me, it seems also a good way to compare my "compass" (where I'm wanting to go, the purpose of my life) with what's actually going on inside. And....perhaps.....the most important aspect of writing is that it directs thoughts towards an attitude of service! I could spend all day contemplating, by myself, wondrous ideas, impressions, and inspirations. When I begin to write and share these "wondrous ideas and impressions" (grin), I become then aware of an "audience" - these ideas or impressions are directed to their benefit, their entertainment, their interests, and I attempt to winnow out the trivial, useless and/or trite (not to mention the harmful)......in other words, create something of value!!

A means to direct the mind ....hmmmmmmm.....

Yes, this is kind of like preaching to the choir, not news for anyone, likely, other than me. another silly indulgence?

Well, it's a practice. I'm far from the goal, for sure.

and now, a favorite poem, by a favorite author........


The Swan

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

Rainer Maria Rilke


and another....

Moving Forward

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Friday, December 17, 2004

"There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig -- an animal easily as intelligent as a dog -- that becomes the Christmas ham." Michael Pollan

Hammy  Posted by Hello

Hammy Posted by Hello

Who is that pig? We call her "Hammy", to remember that she's likely destined to become the main attraction of a luau one day. (Kalua pork is a traditional favorite of the locals; the meat is slow roasted in a pit in the sand, the cooking fire fueled by keawe (mesquite) wood.) We try to not get too attached to Hammy, nor to allow her to become too tame, because of that likelihood. No, we have no plans to eat her ourselves; there's just a large probability that the pig hunters will find her some day. Probably the only thing that would insure her safety would be to pen her up; we're not willing to do that. Her freedom is already limited on the quickly developing Big Island. She lives in constant danger. I've seen her run with terror when hunters are about. I say we try to remain unattached, but the truth of the matter is, I've become fond of her.

According to the history, the first settlers of these islands brought the pigs with them. Today, environmentalists bemoan the destruction the beasts cause to the flora and fauna and look for ways to eradicate them. It's true, the pigs uproot and trample plants and trees; in great numbers they are a nuisance. Like everything in nature, there need be a balance. The wild pigs have few advocates, though.

It's hard for me to describe the pig's nature, but I have been surprised by the gentleness and intelligence of this creature. One day a youthful boar, with a full set of sharp tusks wandered into the yard. A boar is typically more aggressive than the female. If startled a female will likely dash off, while the male may charge, instead. As there was no safe retreat for me, I sat quietly and observed nervously while the boar approached Hammy. She placed her body between me and the boar as he approached, sniffed around, and then traveled on. I'm not sure whether she was actually defending me or defending him, but she was definitely demonstrating a herding capability. I felt protected. (Remember Babe?) I've also been surprised that she does not carry an unpleasant odor. The stench of pig pens must be due to the fact of the animals' confinement. It seems they have more hygienic habits when allowed room to roam.

I wonder about the Moslem and Jewish religious prohibition of eating pork. I wonder if the meat of this animal is "unclean" or whether there may be some other reason; maybe something to do with man's relationship with the animal? I don't know, I just know that after getting to know this particular animal, I've lost whatever taste for pork I may have ever had.


Added note: Kapu - a Hawaiian word with two meanings - 1) forbidden and 2) sacred

Certain sacred places ,such as a "temple" known as a "heiau" will be marked with a sign stating the place is "kapu". Many people mistakenly use this word to translate simply as "no trespassing" and will place it on the boundary of their private property. The more correct usage attaches the meaning of "sacred" to "no trespassing" (certain sacred places are not to be entered except by those with proper training and understanding, so as not to be defiled or disrespected)

The system of "kapu" was used by the alii (chiefs) to protect limited resources and also as a means to protect "mana" - the spiritual power of a plant, creature, or person

and yes, I have heard the term applied to a person "this child is kapu" - meaning the child is sacred, not that the child is "forbidden"

I'm a newcomer to the Hawaiian language, and may have some misunderstandings - the above is a reflection of my limited understanding. It may have some relevance to the understanding of certain other religious traditions, though.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Preserve and protect what is most precious....create a sanctuary in your heart

from Kaili'ohe's Stories of the Ancient People

"It was the belief of our family line that we had been here from the beginning. People had gone out from our land to the East and to the West, and populated other lands. We had chants that told of such migrations from our islands.

We taught by stories and parables. One of the earliest and most important to us was:

Each child born has at birth, a Bowl of perfect Light. If he tends his Light it will grow in strength and he can do all things --swim with the shark, fly with the birds, know and understand all things. If, however, he becomes envious or jealous he drops a stone into his Bowl of Light and some of the Light goes out. Light andthe stone cannot hold the same space. If he continues to put stones in the Bowl of Light, the Light will go out and he will become a stone. A stone does not grow, nor does it move. If at any time he tires of being a stone, all he needs to do is turn the bowl upside down and the stones will fall away and the Light will grow once more."


Release your stones, drop them by the way
you don't need them, do you?
tend your Bowl of Light
we need you and your light,


My last night's dream, again, I was given a child to care for.....

These "mothering" dreams occur frequently. Another one, a few years back, was most beautiful. The infant I was given to tend was plump and deliciously healthy. In the dream, I was to bathe the baby. As I held the child gently in one hand in a basin of bath water, I soaped and rinsed the skin with the other. As I bathed the baby's back, I noticed little bumps on each shoulder blade.....and looking more closely, saw that they were little buds of some sort of growth.......buds of wings?......in the dream I saw that I'd been given a budding angel to bathe......The morning after this dream, I was shocked to read of the disastrous earthquakes in Turkey where thousands lost their lives. I've a friend living in Turkey, I have a real "heart" connection there......and so I wondered, if somehow my dream had been an unearthly reality....that I had indeed prepared an infant angel.....well, dreams do cause such wonder at times......

Not all of my dreams of children given to me to tend are related to earth-shaking calamities, of course. Usually they do serve to remind me, though. They fill me with a sense of privelege and honor, a sense of responsibility for the precious ones. And then I wake, empty-armed, and wonder.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Different Sort of Crime and Punishment

The folks who lived up on Roberts Ridge were of an independent and resourceful breed. While there were shops in town below, most of their food came from their gardens, orchards and livestock, as well as the berries and game to be found in the forest. It was a kind of subsistence living, my grandparents didn't earn much by trade, but were able to feed a family of six amply. My grandmother's annual harvest task was to "put up" (can) about 200 quarts of each food item, including the meats, in order to tide the family through the winter months. And so, while there was no lack, each animal and plant was essential to their survival.

Relations with neighbors were peaceful and friendly. While visits were rare, visitors were welcomed hospitably. Most seemed to mind their own business. Yet, if there was a death or serious illness in one of the families, word would spread quickly and neighbors would show up with food and other offerings of assistance.

It was a real shock, then, one day, to discover that a cow had been stolen. It didn't take much detective work to find the likely culprit, though. A distant neighbor was known for his lack of skills in managing his farm and also, unfortunately, known to be rather stupid. His family just barely managed to scrape by. And so, when my grandfather learned that this family had just miraculously come by a new cow, he thought a visit was in order.

I can't quite imagine how this conversation went. I can tell you for certain, though, that no voices were raised, no threats made. My grandfather was an extremely quiet person with great dignity and simplicity. He didn't rouse the local police authorities nor raise up a "posse" of locals. He went to visit and came back home with his "borrowed" cow.

The consequences for the thief? Well, he was back to his "cowless" state. His family did not go without food that winter, either, though. And he never thought to borrow without asking from his neighbors again.

Monday, December 13, 2004

dedicated to Lovers....drowned in the deep waters of their yearning.......


it's a saturday night, like any saturday night
and i'm stranded in the moonlight
or is it just that it seems
i am caught in the beam
of the halo from a streetlight
the heat makes lightning in the summer air
electricity is everywhere
and the wheels of the night are spinning
and time's beginning to slip right through my hands

stranded in the moonlight
i'm so in love with you right now
gotta get to you somehow
i never thought i could love you more, but i do
i swear i'd be a fool for you
i go from corner to corner, empty handed,
and stranded in the moonlight

it's a saturday night like any saturday night
and i get off from work at midnight
high above me the stars
and beside me the cars
and a motorcycle's headlight
the lights are out on lakeshore drive
the clocks are stopped at ten till five
and the wheels of the night are turning
the stars are burning
my face, my lips, my hands...

stranded in the moonlight
i'm so in love with you right now
gotta get to you somehow
i never thought i could love you more, but i do
i swear i'd be a fool for you
i go from corner to corner, empty handed, and stranded in the moonlight

it's a saturday night like any saturday night
and i'm going to let it take me
or is it just that it seems
i am caught in this dream
and you're the only one can wake me
the lights go on again
the traffic moves
a million radios begin to groove
and the wheels of the night are turning
my soul is burning
my heart's at your command

stranded in the moonlight
i'm so in love with you right now
gotta get to you somehow
i never thought i could love you more, but i do.... i do!
i swear i'd be a fool for you
i go from corner to corner, empty handed, and stranded in the moonlight

i go from corner to corner, empty handed, and I'm stranded

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Well, the swimming in shallow waters isn't working out that well, either. The past two days I kept to the calmer bays, and both days gave myself minor injuries, both involving collisions with sharp rocks or coral, resulting in abrasions and a pretty deep gouge in one of my hands. Nothing serious, but enough for me to rethink the idea that only the deep water holds potential hazards. (sorry, Dad, if you somehow are hearing this...your daughter is going to reconsider your advice.) Life isn't "safe" no matter how one may try to "conserve" it, and somehow, deeper waters are more fulfilling. My father often gently poked fun at himself, saying, "I'm not always right, but I'm always corrected!" That is my destiny, too, it seems...... muddling and stumbling along.....

Friday, December 10, 2004

I'm a lousy swimmer. Oh, I know the strokes, the breathing techniques, the safety measures and I've a reasonable dose of strength and endurance to be able to swim fairly well; I'm just not very comfortable in the ocean and often struggle with a kind of anxiety when in "deep water". I'm not a "natural".

I loved the ocean in my growing up days. Summer days spent at one of the beaches on the Eastern Seaboard were delights. My relationship with the ocean in those days was one of reckless abandon. Although I was sane enough to not swim alone, I loved being tossed about by rogue waves, sometimes to the point where a friend would need to pull me in. A short rest, and I'd be back in the surf, trying to catch the waves for a ride, or else, just to dive through them. I never did drown! (smile) These days are a little different.

A popular swimming beach in town is called Magic Sands. (the real name is La'Aloa - translated meaning "very sacred") Each winter the sand from the beach is washed out, leaving a rugged, bare, lava rock shore. And each summer, magically, the sand reappears. The special characteristics of its surf and currents make it a great boogie-boarding spot and it's often crowded with both children and adults. My first swim there was a sort of snorkeling lesson. My friend had advised me that when I was ready to go back in to shore, I'd best use the South side, allowing the waves to bring me in. I ignored his advice and approached the shore from the North end, rather. Suddenly, a large wave caught me up and tumbled me, ripping the snorkeling gear completely off my head and even tearing the ponytail elastic out of my hair. No sooner had I barely surfaced and gulped a short breath of air than the next wave hit me, again rolling and tumbling me, but fortunately depositing me near the beach. A nice couple helped me ashore, while I gasped for breath and thanked my lucky stars. The amazing thing, a mere twenty to fifty feet away from me were children happily splashing in the ocean and expertly riding the waves. The same ocean and surf that had nearly drowned me was their intimate friend, their playmate. La'Aloa had a lesson for me that day and I recalled the words of my father.

My father was the kind of wise parent who offered little, if no, unsolicited advice. In fact, sometimes, even when advice was asked for, his assistance was in the form of questions, helping me to make my own decision. In his wisdom, he realized that the best lessons are hard won through personal experience and he also knew my nature well. Tell me to do something and I'm likely to do the opposite! His was a benevolent kind of "stand back, watch her run, fly or fall and help her get back up if needed" sort of parenting. And so, I was very surprised when, just before my move to Hawaii, he said, "Ruthie, You may not be happy to hear what I have to say. I'm sorry, but there is something I must say. You know I don't like to give advice, but here it is: (dramatic pause.....) Please, don't swim in deep water." My response to him was "Dad, do you mean that literally, or figuratively????" "Both!", his prompt reply.

Those words of my father echo in my consciousness. He knew my sometimes reckless nature and was concerned about possible dangers I might face in the upcoming days. I've tried to honor his request and paid more attention to safety than usual, both in the water and out. But his words have also created a new anxiety for me when I'm in the ocean. All of a sudden, I'm aware that I may drown there!

I haven't given up swimming, I still go to the ocean for a swim at least once a week, sometimes more. I pace myself, don't get into waters that look too rough and don't get too far away from shore. I'm much more comfortable in the calm bays (they're called "baby beaches" - that's me - a baby in this ocean!) I try to learn the language of this ocean and work on increasing swimming skills and my physical conditioning. Sometimes the fear wins out and my swim is very short, other times I feel I've made progress in these efforts.

Those moments when I overcome the anxiety and truly enjoy my time in the ocean are bliss. The cleansing waters, that wash away grime and sins, carry me to a different world. I become aware of my breathing, regular and calm, and accept the buoyancy the water offers. Observing the graceful motions of the sealife below, I can lose a sense of time and place and momentarily merge with that other world. Or...while floating on my back, eyes closed, enter a sort of meditation, the sunlight filtered through my eyelids forms a kind of kaleidoscope mandala and there is peace.....Someday, maybe, I'll ride some waves again, too. When I'm ready and when the "water is not too deep".

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"There is a general appearance wherein the great lines of creation shaped and gathered in things. Events are knitted together with each other and that's why seeing merely one of them is to perceive nothing. Penetration of an event into another breeds miracle and it is the action being processed wonderfully. Nothing is aimless and universal regularity is a marvelous knot. There is no interruption or no error in creation and those linked together with an event hug the whole nature. Chain never breaks off and the self-existent miracle connects itself. Only what is required exists in the universe and this non-stop extremely great displacement takes place without any fracture and human takes part in this translatory motion by calling it "destiny". - Mete Benderli

I'm fortunate to have had some great influences in my life. Mete Benderli is a friend of mine; our friendship and his strength of character taught me much. His above words lead me to today's rambling thoughts......

Probably the primary and strongest influence on my life was my father. Born into a humble West Virginia "hillbilly" farming family (he attended a one-room school through 8th grade) he was the first in his family to attain a college degree. After his stint in the army during WWII, he moved our family to the East Coast, where he forged a successful career with a local chemical corporation. (A hillbilly transformed into a corporate guy - smile) He continued to educate himself throughout his life. He had an endless curiosity about science and history, loved reading Shakespeare and other works of literature, too. A fine example of lifelong learning, in fact. Throughout his life, even while living in a more urban environment, he maintained, most of all, a love and respect for nature. He is the one who taught me how to observe the life in a forest, the silence and reverence required in our visits to the wild, the appreciation of the plants and animals to be found. He taught me of the various wildflowers and named the birds by their calls.

In his last year of life, he spoke of how he was tiring of his work and wished to be "chasing squirrels in the hills of West Virginia again." He had a special affection for hawks. We often visited a mountain not far from our home that is famous for the views it offers in Spring and Fall of the migrating hawks. (Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania) My father had a relationship to nature that many in our modern world are denied. And so, in the immediate weeks after his death, when I noticed a hawk daily perched in a tree near my mother's apartment window, I wondered if my dad's spirit had somehow inhabited the form of that hawk. God only knows, but I can't help smiling to think of that whimsical possibility.

You may have noticed that many of my posts to this blog have to do with nature, in particular, the birds. The Hawaiian lore of plants and certain animals contain references to their FAMILIAL relationship to nature. The taro plant is their BROTHER; their family "aumakua" (something akin to a protective spirit - particular to their clan) can be a living creature, such as a lizard, a shark, a wild boar, an owl. In other words, they are more than witnesses to the natural world they inhabit - more than consumers of the raw materials provided - they live IN RELATION to the world.

My past three years in Hawaii have been a sort of exploration of this concept, as well. Nature can provide us the key to all mysteries, I'm coming to believe. The plants, the fish and animals, the skies, the ocean and the earth - it seems to me they carry messages from the universe to us, if only we could learn to see and listen. I wonder about my relationship with some of the birds I encounter, the renegade barnyard chickens and turkeys and even the Io and Pueo (hawk and owl)

Which brings me back to Mete's quote about the "marvelous knot of universal regularity." We are linked to the earth and the universe, knitted into a wondrous tapestry. Our actions and understandings are not without consequence.

My understanding is still very small, I seek clues daily and feel an urgency in this quest.

Praying I am granted the eyes to see and the ears to hear, and the time to share what I might learn.........

Birds love the wind, at least falcons, hawks and owls seem to. In my dream last night, it was as though my hands became the wind. A small owl hovered and darted in the air, brushing against my fingers. I wasn't holding it, my hands and the bird were in a kind of dance, interacting in a graceful, gentle and sensuous way.

I woke from my pleasant dream to the usual morning sounds of the birds that inhabit this area; the roosters begin their calls back-and-forth on the hillside, the mynahs their boisterous chattering, this morning there were also the voices of the occasional visitors, the pheasants. After a while, the doves chime in as well as the chirping of the latest brood of chicks. It's a symphony. The morning sounds that greet me as I slowly stretch my limbs and wake my brain to this earthly reality.

This morning, while pondering my dream, recalling the events of the past few days and listening to my bird friends, it occurred to me that there had been something very important missing from Sunday's walk into the back rim of Waipio Valley. I don't recall hearing or seeing any birds! Except for one solitary white bird that soared on the currents above the pastureland, there had been none others! This area should be teeming with wildlife! The valley is scarcely populated (i hear there are fewer than 60 residents) and the forest provides canopy and undergrowth for nesting and food source. The wind currents through the valley were ideal that day for soaring above the treetops. Where were the birds? Something is up in the highland forests above the valley of the kings......

Monday, December 06, 2004

exiting the forest and back into the pasture - and looking towards Mauna Kea (the famous telescopes are visible, but too distant to be seen from this photo) Posted by Hello

some of the undergrowth in the forest  Posted by Hello

a look towards the sea and Waipio Valley  Posted by Hello

a lava tube cave, located on the rim trail Posted by Hello

a lower view of the same falls Posted by Hello

a larger waterfall on the opposite side of the rim trail Posted by Hello

The trail through the forest eventually comes out onto this rim trail - overlooking Waipio Valley (aka The Valley of the Kings) - the valley floor is some 2000 + feet below - the trail is not wide, but at this point not as treacherous as it may appear. Posted by Hello

more of this small fall Posted by Hello

A small waterfall hidden off the path. It's often misty and/or rainy at this elevation (3000 + ft) and the path can be a bit muddy and slippery.  Posted by Hello

At last, the entrance into the forest - alongside a water ditch with orchids and bamboos Posted by Hello

and decided to pose for my camera :) Posted by Hello

These two girls decided to be friendly.. Posted by Hello

A very breezy day at the beginning of the walk. Any pasturing cattle or horses usually don't care who may be passing through Posted by Hello

To start the hike up to the rim of Waipio Valley, one has to first go through ranchland  Posted by Hello

a different sort of song of hope (written back in 1999), something to do with an unbreakable spirit...


homeless, nameless
defrocked, blocked, shell-shocked
No moon, no sky,
stranded, abandoned
yet, she stands
planted for eternity


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sure on this Shining Night

Set by Samuel Barber to poetry by James Agee (1909-1955), "Description of Elysium," from Permit Me Voyage

Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
wandering far alone
Of shadows on the stars.



The Night Rainbow

My daughter, Michelle, is a high school senior and lives with her father on the mainland for most of the year. After her father and I divorced, and while I still lived nearby, she spent many years shuttling back and forth on a weekly basis from the two separate homes. When I moved to Hawaii a few years ago to make a new home and life, Michelle made her wishes known that she didn't want to join me and attend school here, but wanted to remain with her friends in her high school and to live with her dad during the school months. I have accepted her wishes and not made an issue of it. She knows she is welcome to change the arrangement any time she should choose to. (at least welcome by me, her father would be less accomodating, I suspect) My absence in her daily life is a cause for grief, though.

One consolation is that she is flourishing in her achievements and in the development of her character. Another consolation is that her summers with me are especially enjoyable. Our relationship isn't typical of many mother/teenage daughter relationships. She knows she has my trust and love, there is no need to rebel - it's a mature relationship, in my view. We both try to make the most of the time we do have together. We tour the wonderful sights of the Big Island, we go camping, we hike, we swim and snorkel, and we sing and talk and laugh a lot.

One of the rare offerings the Big Island of Hawaii holds is its active volcanic flow into the Pacific Ocean. The Volcano is a popular stop for the tourists and also a sacred and revered place for the indigenous as well as transplanted natives of this island. If one wants to really get the most of the experience, the best time to see it is just after sundown. The waning daylight assists in the early part of the hike; the night sky allows the glow of molten lava to be visible. It's a very long walk over rough, jagged lava and sometimes there are so many cars parked along the route that even the walk to the lava area can take as much as an hour. Michelle and I have made a point of visiting the volcano each year; this past summer was no exception. We started the long march while the sun was still shining, by the time we arrived at the closest vantage point allowed, the sky was dark and by the time we'd returned to the car, the full moon was rising over the Pacific Ocean. The flow wasn't as spectacular a sight as some previous times, but we'd had a marvelous time, singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall", playing with our flashlights, giggling at some of the others making the trek, enjoying the sights and smells and sounds. A wonderful time of camaraderie, in fact.

The drive back to our campsite was a long winding one up the slopes of Kilauea. A misty drizzling rain began. And suddenly, something mysteriously wonderful appeared in the sky before us ........ A silver arc of light..... The light of the full moon, refracted by the rain drops, had formed a silver rainbow. An ethereal shimmering silver bow, seeming to be a special gift just for Michelle and me.

I never knew that such a thing existed before, but it turns out that it is a part of Hawaiian lore. They call it the Night Rainbow. There is even a book named after the phenomenon: "Tales from the Night Rainbow" by Koko Willis and Pali Jae Lee.

"There are many kinds of rainbows. The night too has rainbows. One, the encircling ring around the moon, is only a weather sign. The other night rainbow, Na Po Mokole, is seen only by a few. It is the Spirit Rainbow. The rainbow that holds our ancestors. When it is seen it is a great blessing from all our family who have gone out of flesh. Many healings take place at this time, for our spirit family knows our needs and tries to help us. They give us knowledge and rekindle the light when it is weak. It is a time of unity, a time for family - a reawakening or renewal for those in body. There is no greater blessing on earth than the blessing of the Night Rainbow."

When Michelle is feeling lonely, I hope she will recall our blessing of the night rainbow, and consider the thought that family can be near, even when far.

And when I consider that we are ALL RELATIONS, yes ALL of us, I hold that evening's silver rainbow as a sign of hope for the entire family of man.

"Amama, Ua Noa, Lele Wale"
The Kapu is Finished, the Words Fly Free

Friday, December 03, 2004

Finding One's Voice ...... or "Don't Die with your Song Unsung"

One of my daughters is a professional opera singer. It was a great pleasure to participate in her growing up years - listening to the shy child who loved music and wiled away hours at the piano, humming and making up her own songs - watching her blossom into a gifted master - the kind of singer that brings tears to your eyes and wonder in your heart when you hear her. One evening in Philadelphia, I attended a free performance by her and a few of her classmates in the Master's Program. Each of the singers was endowed with enormous talent and had already achieved a level of artistry that is rare and precious. What was most touching was the realization of the love that each brought to their craft and the unique humanity of each voice and each performer. They were singing only for the love of music and to share this music and their voices with whomever might show up. The composers in heaven must have been smiling. The evening's concert was a visitation of angels and it was a true privelege to be there. More than once, I felt the presence of the divine and was enthralled, I imagine others were too. After the concert it took some time for the audience to file out the one exit door and so there was a line. Behind me in the line was a man, humming to himself. I made a friendly comment to him that he had a talent as a singer too, and he smiled and nodded. I then made some remark to my own lack of talents. His reply...."we all have gifts, yours is a beautiful presence." (I quickly ducked into the coat closet, in embarrassment)

This reply of his has stayed with me for years - my first reaction was that of embarrassment and then I became very sad..... "great!....my only talent is in showing up!" yes, I know he didn't know me well..... but.......there was a spark of truth in his words (he might have been a wise seer, in fact) If there was any beauty in my presence during that evening's concert, it was due to the love and appreciation I felt for the singers, for the music, and for the divine flow I experienced in that room that night....and somehow I was no longer mere witness....

Presence has something to do with love, something to do with God, loving what you are doing or experiencing, allowing the light to shine through you. Allowing your human essence to live and breathe, perhaps. And maybe, even, sometimes just to show up as witness?

In the case of this little blog, I plan to share what I love and find beautiful, perhaps discover my writing voice ..... or if nothing else......I'm going to show up. And even better, perhaps I'll encourage another shy budding "singer" to "show up" and share their "voice".

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Why a picture of a chicken and her dozen chicks? Agnes is not just an ordinary chicken, oh no! Here's the story......

A few years ago a personal "crisis" triggered a very generous offer from a friend - to stay in his large luxurious home as a house guest for as long as I needed. This house is blocks from the beach, with a swimming pool, views, privacy and situated in an "up-scale neighborhood" (real-estate-sales-speak). Not only was I invited to stay, but also any or all of my four young adult children who might spend their summer vacation with me. In return, I offered housekeeping duties as well as my bookkeeping skills and served as office manager for his business. We became surrogate family (platonic, if inquiring minds want to know) and enjoyed a good friendship. Yes, I was blessed in spite of my personal "woe".

In many parts of the Big Island of Hawaii the weather is so benevolent that windows can be left open year-round. Even the rain typically doesn't blow in. With three cats in the household, my host's practice was to leave a sliding door to the deck (we call it a "lanai" in Hawaiian) open at all times. This allowed the cats to go in and out as often as they needed.

One day I heard a scratching sound on the far part of the yard - investigating I found a small chicken scratching for bugs under the fallen leaves of a huge Banyan Tree. She was a wild one and ran away when I approached. Cool.....another of the charms of this island - even in "up-scale" suburbia there can be found a unique kind of wildlife.

One day after returning from work, I was surprised to notice an egg on top of the armoire in my bedroom. Yes! somehow that wild hen had not only discovered cat food as a tasty supplement to her insect diet, she had also decided that my bedroom provided a good potential nest. What a gift! She gave me an egg! And so this wild chicken became my "Agnes of God". She continued to sneak into the house to get into the cat food and continued to deposit eggs in my bedroom. (sometimes she'd deposit something not as wholesome as a fresh egg, too - I'll not go into detail) She persisted in avoiding direct contact with us humans, though, usually hanging out below the Banyan and roosting up in the branches at night. ("free range" chicken eggs are quite tasty and wholesome - the yolk color is a rich orange color, not the anemic yellow of store-bought eggs - cat food in the diet?)

I've friends in the Dominican Republic and have visited that Island a few times, too. So, I subscribe to an online daily news service, entitled DR1, to keep up with the local news of my friends. One news story was especially unusual and I called the family around to listen while I read it aloud. Seems there had been a couple of girls abducted and held prisoner in a man's home. They claimed he was a witch doctor and kept a chicken in the same room as the girls. The girls claimed that the chicken was a kind of spy - she would report whatever they said or did to the witchdoctor. The news story related that the girls were now freed and that this evil witch doctor was now in jail awaiting a trial and that the chicken was incarcerated (evidence? witness?) as well! Here I was, reading this story aloud to my friend and my daughters and we looked up to see........ Agnes peering through the slats of the window and listening too! (like I said, she's no ordinary chicken......)

The follow-up to the Dominican Republic's witch doctor? The girls recanted their story..... said they had run away from their homes and weren't really prisoners; he was allowed to go free. And the chicken? Seems that the jailer had found her talents especially helpful, too. He claimed the chicken gave him the winning numbers to the national lottery. The chicken was released from jail and went home with the jailer. The news article didn't explain just how the chicken was able to give him the winning lottery numbers, so don't ask me. Agnes never shared such information with me, either.

I've since moved on to a more rural area and Agnes came with me - she managed to attract a male suitor (I suspect an escaped fighting cock - there seems to be a thriving market here in what are euphemistically called "show birds")... voila...... chicks. Here, her diet did not include cat food - rather some chicken feed and whatever bugs and seeds she could scratch up from the grounds, herself. Recently she was trapped by an unpleasant neighbor and shot - some people don't appreciate the calls of roosters early in the mornings. They also don't seem to appreciate the bug control these birds offer, not to mention the egg offerings. But the birds and the other feral visitors to this small property are all welcome by me. I like to think of it as a small sanctuary, in fact. Some may argue that an unchecked feral chicken population is a hazard to the local environment ( I suspect they rather believe that it may be a hazard to their real estate investment values?)
My feelings are that the presence of the chickens is a blessing!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Agnes and her first brood of chicks Posted by Hello

3 piglet orphans that were visitors to my home in Hawaii  Posted by Hello

Free Hit Counters
Web Site Counter