Launching Into The Deep

Growing up on an island meant being surrounded by water. In my case, that water happened to be the beautiful Pacific Ocean. We frequently camped on the beach and I learned how to swim in it as if it were nothing more than a giant swimming pool. It was a source of food and sustenance for our families and we learned from a young age to have respect for the sea.

But what I loved most about the ocean was that though it exuded great strength and power, the ebb and flow of its waves, could lull you to sleep. And its horizon provided the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I often would just sit and gaze at the horizon while my heart searched for hopes and dreams. The definition of the word horizon is said to be the line where the earth’s surface and the sky seem to meet. It is also used to describe the limit of a person’s perception, experience, or interest. You have probably often heard the phrase “broaden your horizon”.

If you have been lucky enough to view sunsets and sunrises from high peaks or even from a ship sailing the deep blue sea, I am “high-fiving” you right now. Those experiences are life-changing. Every year on New Years Eve, many people flock to the summit of Haleakala, on the island of Maui, to view the first sunrise of the new year. This dormant volcano rises 10,023 feet above sea level. The name, Haleakala, means house of the sun. It has been attracting visitors since the late 1800’s. Samuel Clemens wrote:    “It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always”. My daughter Nicole, and her family live on Maui and has been blessed to have this very experience. The pictures below are those she took herself from high above the clouds on Haleakala.

As for me, I have mostly enjoyed these epic phenomenons from the shores of life. I have always felt safer in the shallows. I recently read that we were not created to live in the shallows. Though it is home to some sea life, not much survive in the shallows. The constant washing away of the ocean’s waves make it difficult for anything to thrive. You can find beautiful sea shells, but they just remind you of the life that once called those shells home. The shallows is a safe place to wade and enjoy the ocean without too much threat of what lies deeper. The deep, from what I am told, holds the true beauty of the ocean. Besides all of its lifeforms, the beauty it displays is like no other. But in order to see it, you have to be brave enough to make the journey. I have always been afraid of the deep.

In reflecting on the year that has now passed, and looking at the new year ahead, I desire more than ever to experience what the deep holds for me. I no longer want to be satisfied with the safety of the shallow end of life. For everyone, this may look different. For me, it is simply letting go of fear, insecurity and doubt. It is being bolder to reach for those hopes and dreams that until now has just been sitting on the horizon of my life.

Sometimes, it is good to take time and reflect; to sit on a sandy shore and gaze out into the horizon, or in some extremes to travel to a high peak and watch the sun rise so you can get a better perspective. We just need to take in a big breath after that and then launch out into the deep.

A most Happy and Blessed New Year to all of You!

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Celebrating Christmas With Hawaiian Dancing

I was raised in a culture where dance was considered a second language. Hawaii, my first home, truly epitomizes how dance can speak to the minds and hearts of many and stir emotions of the soul. It is much more than a form of entertainment, and often will tell a story through the graceful movement of the body and hands.

The Hula was originally a part of the religious traditions in the Pacific Islands. It was used to honor and entertain royalty. Today, many of its sacred religious choreography is still danced to tell stories of their ancient chiefs and gods.  While the hula is still a very popular form of entertainment in venues all around the island, much of the dance has been redeemed to express worship to the one true God.

Every year in Hawaii, a huge event called the Merrie Monarch Festival is held to celebrate the dances of the islands. The event draws dancers from all across the country to compete for coveted trophies in each of the different forms of dance. Visitors to the islands, and residents are treated to musicians and dancers who rehearse all year-long to participate in this festival.

The costumes that are worn, are as beautiful as the dancers that wear them. The fragrant flower leis, and colorful dresses move in perfect harmony to the melodies and graceful hands of the dancers. Many observers who watch , may not understand the meaning of each motion, but yet, they are captivated by the story that is being told.

 

I learned to dance from a very young age. Born and raised in Hawaii, learning the music and dances was a natural part of my growing up there. Every family event, whether, birthdays, anniversaries or weddings, included music and dance. The Holidays were no exception. Christmas and New Years is always celebrated with lots of food, the music of guitars and ukuleles and beautifully arrayed hula dancers. I miss the islands at Christmas time.

My daughter, Nicole, the picture you see above, is a beautiful dancer and is part of a group of dancers who minister at the church she attends and in the community. Below is a short video of she and the group dancing at The Maui Mall. They are dancing to the song, A Maui Christmas. Nicole is in the middle of the front row.

 

There are many Hawaiian Christmas Songs, one of which has been heard far beyond the island borders. Perhaps you have heard of it. The name of the song is Melekalikimaka (my spell check is going crazy right now). It simply means Merry Christmas. Some of the words go like this:

Melekalikimaka, is the thing to say

On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,

It’s the Hawaiian greeting that I send to you,

From the land where palm trees sway.

With that, I will close with this thought, even if you may not do the hula, everyone can do a “happy dance”, so dance like no one is watching. From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

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The Resounding Multnomah Falls

I have lived in the State of Oregon for just under 4 years, and in that time, my husband and I have enjoyed venturing out and discovering some of the wonders that this region has to offer.  From the mountains to the sea, and everything between, the Pacific Northwest is rich in beauty and legends. One, in particular, draws millions to itself and is called the Multnomah Falls.

I love waterfalls, and have seen and been awed by many, but none like the beauty, power and strength you feel from the magnificent Multnomah Falls, in the Columbia Gorge region of Oregon. It is 611 feet of cascading icy waterthat you get to behold up close and personal from the Benson Bridge. The bridge was named for Simon Benson, a prominent businessman from Portland who actually owned the falls in the early 1900s. Before he died, he transferred his ownership to the USDA Forest Service. From the vantage point of the bridge you experience the top-tier of the falls and the cool mist of the water on your face.

But what intrigues me the most about this natural beauty, is the captivating legend that tells the story of the creation of the falls. The Multnomah were a tribe of Chinookan people, who lived in the Portland area in the 19th century. Legend tells us that a disease came upon the tribe’s village and many of the people were getting sick and dying. A medicine man came forth and told the Chief that he had a vision of the entire village being wiped out and the only way they could be saved is if a young maiden would sacrifice her life. Upon hearing this, his daughter, the princess, was heartbroken. Her betrothed had fallen ill, and she believed the only way to save him and the people she loved, was to sacrifice her own life. She walked to the edge of the cliff and jumped. It is told that everyone became miraculously well. When the Chief found out, he asked for a sign that his daughter did not die in vain, and the roar of water could be heard throughout the area and a silvery flow fell off the cliffs and has never stopped til this day. It is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice. One that brought salvation to and entire group of people. 

The definition of “resounding” is unmistakable, emphatic, of a sound loud enough to reverberate. When observing this awe-inspiring falls, one cannot ignore the unmistakable, emphatic roar of nature. Her voice, reverberates and demands our silence as we behold her natural beauty. I just see the beauty of God’s creation, and hear the waters cry out in praise to its creator. I see in the powerful, cascading flow of water, an outpouring of the love our heavenly father has for each one of us. 

Was there a princess? I think there was. Did she make a sacrificial leap over a 611 foot cliff? That, I am not too sure. I just know that the Multnomah Falls and all of its wonders, is a sight to behold and I thank God for it.

God Bless all of You! Please leave your comments below.

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