Tag Archives: love

Bless Me Father, For I Disagree

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Graphic by LikeSuccess

In his homily this past Sunday, my pastor said that sin darkens our intellect and obscures our ability to see the truth – God’s truth, God’s will. Even when we see the truth, sin causes us to have a hard time obeying and following it.

As an example, my pastor said Hitler had a brilliant intellect, but his darkened intellect kept him from knowing the truth that Jews are equal to, not inferior to, Aryans. In the same way, our nation’s darkened intellect kept us from knowing that Blacks are equal to Whites.

Because sin will always be there to hamper our ability to see the truth, we need people through whom God can lead us. We all have the potential for such spiritual leadership, so we shouldn’t be afraid to fulfill our God-given potential, lest we deprive the world of a leader – “a fisher of men” as Jesus said in the Bible.

Here’s where my pastor’s homily took a weird turn. As an example of a man who is not afraid to become all that he can become, my pastor chose Donald Trump. My pastor added that he does not agree with all of Trump’s decisions or all his goals, but he nonetheless approves of his attitude in striving to be all that he can be.

My pastor marvels that Trump is not afraid to be all that he can be.

My pastor is not repulsed that Trump is not trying to be more than he can be.

My pastor seems to assume that everything Trump will be will be good. Why? Because Trump’s anti-abortion position endears him to the religious right?

Am I supposed to be impressed that Donald grew up affluent; went to private schools; didn’t have to serve in the military; got through business school; went into business with seed money from his dad; made a lot of money; went through several bankruptcies; stayed mega-rich while he stiffed contractors who worked on his buildings; and then decided to become president so he can single-handedly save our nation from economic malaise and a lack of worldwide respect? Is this a man trying to be all that he can be?

Could Trump try to do more? Could he strive to be: Mindful of the working poor who can’t afford healthcare? Compassionate toward immigrants seeking safety and a decent life? Informed about science that warns of imminent dangers to the planet we share with all the other countries of the world? Embarrassed by his locker room talk about grabbing women by their genitals? Ashamed of publicly mocking a person with a disability? Aware that lying is forbidden in God’s Top 10?

Should this man of such privilege, and now of such power, be wary of all the wrong things he can be – like the intellectually darkened Hitler? And if he is not wary, does that give us all the more reason to be?

My pastor might be correct that Trump always goes for it when it comes to becoming all he can become. But Trump goes unchecked by Christian values rooted in love. His anti-abortion stance does not give him a pass for the Christian directive to love one another.

Does my opinion make me a bad Christian? A hypocrite? Many will condemn me as such. It’s my struggle, a matter between my conscience and my God, but I cannot love with one hand and hate with the other. If Trump is a fisher of men, I pray he does not catch me in his net.

 

©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2017.

Love Must Push Back

 

 

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Lady Justice with her scales and her sword. Source: Internet, no credit found. 

Like many Americans, my mind is swirling with many questions about the 2016 presidential election, particularly its results. As I did during the contentious 18 months of campaigning, I am reading opinion pieces and articles to try to comprehend why people, especially people of differing opinions, think the things they do. Peace starts with empathy. One journalist asked why people are still touting the “Love Trumps Hate” slogan after the election results proved it wrong.

“Love Trumps Hate” is for me a belief rooted in faith, not a mere slogan. Since God is the source of all love, then God trumps hate – ultimately, seldom instantly, but in a sustained fashion. Being a person of faith means accepting that things happen in God’s time, and we are not privy to the reasons. Waiting is hard for us, especially when times are hard. And we are quick to forget that we need to work, to fight, and to sacrifice for things worth having.

Why did hate – in the forms of disrespect, bullying, misogyny, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia – get tolerated and perhaps rewarded in this election? Were people so filled with rage born of fear and resentment that nothing else mattered? Were people were so filled with distrust and laziness that they did not bother to vote in rejection of these things?

Women, racial minorities, immigrants, veterans, the LGBT community, and disabled persons were all made to feel less than, unwanted, intimidated, and threatened during this election. Now that the responsible person is in a position to affect their lives, many people have reason to fear and doubt. Now more than ever, I need to cling to my belief that love trumps hate.

Love sometimes requires courageous, difficult, and unrelenting work. To act in the name of love means to act with patience, respectfulness, and humility. When hate pushes against and looms over some of us, we have the choice to stand together, lock arms, and push back.

 

©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.

Kai Loa

Kai

Copyright Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016. 

A little more than two years ago, my husband’s uncle Don passed away and left his parakeet orphaned. Don’s neighbors and friends weren’t able to take the parakeet, so we drove the little guy seven hours north from Long Beach, California, to live with us in northern California. No one knew the parakeet’s name or age, but we learned from the Internet that a blue beak meant he was male. We named him Kai Loa: kahakai means beach in Hawaiian, and loa means long.

Parakeets are social birds, so we decided the best place for Kai’s cage was in our family room, the social hub of our home. Since parakeets also like to be the loudest thing in the room, we sometimes moved Kai’s cage to the guest bathroom in order to hear our TV. Kai sang at the top of his lungs when he heard me practicing hula, and he alerted whenever he heard our dog run by.

Recently Kai stopped singing and vocalizing. We booked the first available appointment for Kai to see a bird vet recommended by our dog vet. After poking around the Internet, we guessed that Kai had a respiratory and throat infection that is common in parakeets.

Yesterday I had a vision: Kai was lying on his side on the floor of his cage. I immediately went to his cage and found him sitting on the floor, a sign that he was too weak to balance himself on his perches. It took some time, but Kai eventually mustered up the energy to climb back on his perches.

Today I saw Kai hobbling around the floor of his cage, and I hoped he would manage to climb back up again. It pained me to see him getting weaker, and I knew it was time to pick him up.

As Kai sat in my cupped hands, his breathing very shallow, he half-opened his eyes a few times. I whispered to him and lightly stroked his back. It takes a lot of effort to stroke a parakeet gently. This went on for some time, but just when I thought his breathing was slowing down, he opened his eyes, raised his head, and tried to spread his wings. “Wow,” I thought, “Kai is making a comeback!” But just as suddenly, Kai slumped over onto his side and stopped breathing.

Parakeets don’t garner the type of sentiment that dogs and cats do, but Kai was the only other living thing in Don’s home. Kai was loved by a human being. This has to count for something. Being loved gives us value. Giving love gives us value.

They say all dogs go to heaven. I hope parakeets do, too, and that Kai and Don are together again.

 

©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.

The Greeting of Love

 

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Copyright Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.

Punalu’u, a black sand beach on the southern tip of Hawai’i Island, is one of my favorite beaches, and I go there every chance I get. During one visit, I came across a crowd of tourists huddled around honu, green sea turtles, sleeping on the sand. The tourists kept a few feet away from the honu as they took pictures, but they were still closer than the 15 feet required by law. I watched from a distance, hoping the honu would stay asleep so the crowd wouldn’t stress them.

Close to shore, a honu peered its head above the water. Moments later another honu did the same. A receding wave revealed the first honu on the sand, and I smiled. The tired little creature waited at the water’s edge for its companion, and together the pair started their slow climb up the beach. Instantly charmed by them, I took a picture with my phone.

With the sleeping honu resting peacefully, I gave my full attention to the new arrivals. The pair could have veered in any direction on that beach, but, to my surprise, they headed straight toward me. Each time the honu got close to me, I walked back and to the right or to the left to get out of their way. I moved several times, but each time the honu changed direction and continued their deliberate walk toward me. It felt wrong to keep moving, so I stopped.

One by one, the tourists noticed the honu appearing to follow me, and I could tell they wanted to swarm the pair as they had the sleeping honu. Standing firm, with my eyes locked on the honu and the wind blowing fiercely through my wild mass of dark wavy hair, I thought, “Leave them alone.” To my relief, the tourists stayed put. With the tourists at bay, I sang “Mele Aloha” to the honu as they approached me. This song is a welcoming chant composed by the revered Mary Kawena Pukui.

Onaona i ka hala me ka lehua

He hale lehua nō ia na ka noe

‘O ka’u nō ia e ‘ano’i nei

E li’a nei ho’i o ka hiki mai

A hiki mai nō ‘oe

A hiki pū nō me ke aloha

Aloha ē, aloha ē, aloha ē

Fragrant of pandanus and lehua blossoms

This is indeed a house of lehua shrouded in the mist

It is the one that I am truly longing for

Yearning for the arrival

And you have indeed come

Arriving indeed with love

Love, love, love to you

The honu finally stopped a few feet away from where I stood. My heart spilled over with love as I gazed at the honu in wonder. The wind swirled wildly, blowing back my hair, whistling in my ears, and wrapping my body through my clothes, but never drying out my eyes. I waited until the honu fell asleep before I left them.

Since that day I have never doubted that the universe notices, feels, acknowledges, and returns the love in my heart. People may be indifferent to love; they may choose to ignore it; they may mock it; and they may even hate me for it. But the spirit of love that permeates all of creation greets love with love.

 

©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.

Love Heals

 

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His dad was a truck driver who was away from home a lot. Without a mom, he spent countless hours alone. Not spending time with others and not going out in public left him with limited social skills and a limited vocabulary.

When his father finally gave him up for adoption, he said the little guy often hid in a corner and cried. Left fearful and distrustful, life appeared to give the little guy a break when a family adopted him. Heartache paid him yet another visit when his emotional baggage proved too much for this family to handle.

This little guy’s name is Sam.

In my last post, I expressed my sadness over the probability that Sam’s behavioral issues were more than my family was prepared to take on. I was surprised by my emotional reaction to the prospect of not being able to keep this white and tan Cocker Spaniel who tugged at my heartstrings.

Learning about Sam’s past gave me the context I needed in order to understand his reactions and behaviors. Understanding the root of Sam’s pain gave me a roadmap for his healing. There was nothing in Sam that was broken; his experiences in the world broke him. His experiences in the world can heal him.

Like dogs who are abandoned or surrendered, we humans are all broken in some way. We all have a story behind our pain. The world could be a kinder place if we took the time to see people in the context of their lives, if we traced each other’s hurts back to their roots, and if we helped one another find the roadmap to healing.

Oh, and yes, Sam is joining our family permanently.

 

 

Copyright: Living off Island, writingwahine 2015.

Doggie 2.0

FullSizeRender Sam

 

When our dog, Lucky, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I wondered if she would hang on long enough for our daughter to get home from college to say goodbye. Lucky stayed with us for three more months, passing away less than twelve hours after our daughter returned to school from a long weekend at home.

After Lucky died, our home was petless for a year. We adopted Kimo, a Cocker Spaniel like Lucky, when we decided we wanted another dog to love. We’ve had Kimo for almost two years now. It took some time, but my brain now floods with dopamine whenever I look at Kimo, the same way my brain used to flood with Lucky.

We’ve often wondered if Kimo would be happier not being an only child in a home where the first two human children were already out of the house. After a few flirtations with the idea, we recently began fostering a Cocker Spaniel named Sam to see if adopting him is the right thing for our family.

Sam is a handsome, smart, energetic, confident, and entertaining bundle of dog. He’s more independent than Kimo and not as much of a cuddler or kisser. Having him in our home has made me see my husband, Kimo, and myself a little more clearly in terms of our personalities, our energy levels, our rhythms, and our dynamics.

Unlike falling in love with another human being, falling in love with a dog feels one-sided. Another human being will tell you in overt and subtle ways whether he or she is “not that into you.” With dogs, it’s even more of an art. Dogs can’t ask themselves whether they’re up for the challenge of working through behavioral issues and whether energy levels match up. The onus is all on us humans to figure out whether to commit and get married or just date and eventually go our separate ways.

And yet, the heartache feels very similar. When you open yourself up to take in a dog and possibly love him for the rest of his life, you open yourself up to the pain of things not working out. You also loathe the idea of being the next human being to inspire bonding only to let him down again. If you’re reading this and not understanding what emotional craziness I’m talking about, I respectfully suggest that you not be a dog owner. Dogs feel us. That’s why they’re our best friends. In a perfect world, all dogs would feel loved, because that’s how they’re wired.

So here’s the ending you might have sensed was coming. I’m not – we’re not – sure that our family is the right fit for Sam. In my head there’s a scene that needs to play out: The three of us on one side of a table saying to Sam on the other side, “You’re a wonderful guy. Any family would be lucky to have you. It’s not you, it’s us.”

Pass the Häagen-Dazs. And the tissues.

 

© Living off Island, writingwahine, 2015.

Hā: The Breath of Life

Little Brother,

Your passing marked the beginning of a years-long period of significant losses and changes in my life. I couldn’t recover from one blow before the next one came. For a long time, I was merely going through the motions of living, just treading water, hoping to catch my breath. Adrift, praying for the losses to end, I let the current of grace carry me back to shore.

Now that the hurting and endless crying have subsided, memories that once brought me to tears can make me smile. I reach back in time to hear the faint sound of your voice greeting me and your laugh teasing me. I stare at your picture to see past your face and recall your expressions and mannerisms.

But memories can’t fill the gaping hole of my loss. I can only build my life around it, layering moments, months, and years into mountains that reach toward heaven. Still, even in my happiest moments, I can gaze downward and see the gaping hole in the valley below.

You inspire me to chase my dreams, to welcome my mistakes, to face my fears, and to jump across chasms on the wings of faith. Your example guides me to live with laughter, courage, patience, and selflessness.

Although you lived away from the land of your birth, you embodied Aloha – the presence of breath. The breath of life, its essence being love, was the gift you brought and shared.

So today, January 14th, I celebrate the day you arrived in my life as my baby brother. There will be no singing, no party hats, no birthday cake, nor candles. But I will make a wish.

May Divine Peace remove all the pain that found you in this world. May your soul travel in Light. And wherever your journey takes you, may you feel my love.

Fly with God’s angels, but never leave my heart,

-Sis

©Living off Island, writingwahine, 2015.