Trip to Molokai reminded me that spiritual capital, human decency are the cost of rampant exploitation
Reflecting on my trip to the beautiful, culturally-rich, and economically abused Molokai island brought about some important considerations for spiritual community - something I think we can and should think about over the holidays this year.
My Hawaiian Travels This Fall to Restore the Sacred - and Transform
It has been a unique, busy and wonderful fall very much including spending a lot of October in Hawaii, my "top of the bucket list" for a number of years. I've dreamed and been so heavily drawn to Kauai, where I spent 10 amazing days.
A friend really pitched my also going to Molokai, where he has lived and still maintains a condo. I chose four days to coincide with their Aloha Festival, which I was one a few non-locals attending, and really enjoyed it all.
Sacred Recovery and Sharing for All in Molokai
My friend also highly recommended I visit Pilipo Solatorio and his son Greg, which I had the honor to do for half a day at their beautiful property, pretty much completely "off the grid" at the easternmost end of Molokai at road's end, called Halawa Valley. Check out their wonderful website, www.halawavalleymolokai.com.
My friend told me he saw the PBS special about them and their being the sole survivors here of what for many centuries was a thriving agricultural community, that, within a few short years after a major tsunami hit the Hawaiian Islands in the late forties, disappeared. Greg leads small groups on what he calls "cultural hikes" into hidden waterfalls and lush extensive tropical overgrowth interspersed with fruit trees planted by his ancestors.
The Spiritual Power of "Talk Story"
Before the scheduled hike the day I was there, which I had the honor to participate in, he, his father Pilipo, who is in his late seventies, and his young teenaged son duplicate ancient ritual to welcome all who come, give fruit offerings to the divine source, and, as it is said throughout Hawaii, "talk story" - their story of who they were since arriving somewhere around 200 AD from Polynesia - and how they found their way to come full circle to reclaim their amazing and rich heritage. It is a heritage of generosity, unconditional love for all, gentleness, striking abundance and sharing.
It is how we all used to live before the system which perpetuates dysfunction throughout the world emerged millennia ago - one of dominance, imposed limitation, sanctioned violence and the belief that there is never enough - which is killing us and killing our world. Once upon a time we knew better . . . and we are now critically challenged to reclaim our lost heritage as human beings to sustain ourselves and our planet.
The Epidemic Cost of Greed and Violation
When I watched the sweet parade with all its floats honoring native and current life on Molokai go down the main street in their biggest (not!) town, which looked like one from the Wild West, I thought it a terrible irony when the organizers announced that Monsanto sponsored it - Molokai's biggest employer on an island where many of the natives are on public assistance and there are no jobs. Monsanto has been banned throughout much of Europe, accused through extensive adding of some of the worst known pesticides, of massively poisoning our food.
Pilipo told me many of the young men are seriously addicted to drugs and alcohol and are angry and hopeless - human byproducts of the current raging greed and disparity in the world - certainly in our country which, for a hundred years until the middle of the last century, forbade natives to speak their language, learn their history, and practice their ancient ways. What happens when we lose our roots - is this not losing our core?
No wonder there is rampant dysfunction including abuse, addiction, alienation in our country. We have much to be ashamed of, much to rectify.
I was so struck, though, in that sacred half-day I spent with them just how paradoxically tough our infinite, loving spirits are, just how capable of resurrecting ourselves as higher beings we are, as I additionally watched the other tourists who were also invited to participate in their sacred ritual uplifted and transformed. We do understand a fundamentally spiritual language that reminds us we truly are all-one, and know how to prioritize providing for others as much as we provide for ourselves.
There Really is Enough to Go Around
There is enough to go around, and we are really enough to produce and sustain it beyond greed and false limitation, to identify ourselves as stewards of the earth, ourselves and each other. The Hawaiian word for family is "ohana", which carries a deeper, wider meaning that we are all one spiritual family - there is no other - and this extends to equally caring for and respecting all life on the planet.
"Aloha" means hello, goodbye and love. We can only create and comfortably dwell in a full circle of paradoxically honoring ourselves and others as unique and equally common beings of developing, open conscience in a universe of operating love.
Where love isn't, inhumanness is; and suffering arises and inflicts terrible cost - on everybody. To me what is really worth praying for is to recover our core strength to each stand up for our common humanity and hold ourselves accountable to behave accordingly.
I invite you, in this holiday season to find your core courage to dare to live your life as you were ancestrally; and as you - we all - are in our soul, which so yearns and is eminently capable of "taking over" and restoring, self by self, community by community, the sacred as actualized universal love, the not-by-accident Christmas story of new birth and kept promise. We are supremely capable of transforming ourselves . . . enough.