See also Jan 11 and Jan 20, 2016
My Christmas message here, Dec. 17, 2015.
We just returned from nineteen days in Hawaii, most of which time was a wonderful visit with my cousin, Georgine, and her circle, as well as the use of her home on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Only one previous time, in 1985, did I visit Hawaii. Certainly I’m no expert on our 50th state. Still, there are many learnings, simply from observing. In later posts, I’ll share more observations about the Hawaii I saw the past 19 days. This initial post focuses on events part of three of those days.
We are home bodies. Christmas and New Years this year was far away from home. One becomes aware of customs and traditions, similarities and differences, inclusion and, yes, exclusion.
December 23 was not a particularly good day, and in mid-afternoon in a McDonalds restaurant in a Kailua-Kona Walmart, I had the good fortune of passing about an hour of time listening to a concert of community elders sitting across from me (picture below, click to enlarge). They were simply folks, singing in English, and in Hawaiian, tunes familiar, and unfamiliar. At most, there were about nine in number. It was a very pleasant time, and they seemed pleased there was an audience.
Earlier, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Dec. 20 edition featured an essay by Minnesota home-boy Garrison Keillor on Christmas. Neat: GK Honolulu Star-Adv001.
But the high-lite for me was the Christmas Day homily of Fr. Stephen at Annunciation Church in Waimea (called Kamuela by the post office, as there are six Waimea’s in the islands.)
One doesn’t have to be Catholic or even Christian to know the basics of the Christmas story: Jesus was conceived and born, and on goes the story.
I happened to be sitting in a pew directly in front of a doll, the infant Jesus, which, ironically, was directly in my sight-line to the crucifix on the wall behind the altar.
Fr. Stephen had a very simple Christmas message which I interpreted like this: Jesus was born, and then he died, and then he was resurrected…the basic elements of the story we all know.
But in a most gentle way this teacher seemed to nudge my thinking in a new way. Surely, Jesus went away, leaving his disciples behind, those folks who had become dependent on him doing miracles and such. There they were, stuck with continuing the hard work Jesus had begun.
In a sense, perhaps, we were being reminded by our homilist that we need to learn that we are the ones who “must be”, as Gandhi so famously said, “the change we wish to see in the world”. We cannot delegate our responsibility to someone else. At least that is how I heard the message.
I started to see the Christmas message a bit differently than I had always seen it. If those apostles of Jesus were a bit slow on the uptake, so long as he was on the scene, so are we, and its best that we nudge ourselves off of our sense of hopelessness or dependence on whatever it is that holds us back, and get to work, actively, in our own spaces and places to make our community, our world, a better place for everyone. It’s not enough to blame the President, or the Republicans, or whomever. We are, each of us, responsible….
With our involvement the world can indeed become a better place.
At the end of Mass December 25, the excellent community choir sang the Hawaiian Christmas song – you’ve all heard it: here’s Bing Crosby’s rendition.
Mahalo, everyone at Annunciation in Waimea, Big Island, Hawaii.
A PS: A couple of days later I was back in the same Church, again listening to the same choir, and the same pastor. It was Holy Family Sunday. The message this time was about the tough time this Biblical family had for some years after Jesus was born. As Christians know, Herod was not especially happy at this new child. The family was not welcome. They became “Illegal Immigrants” for a considerable time
After church, myself, this stranger, this short term “migrant” in Waimea, was welcomed to participate in the after Mass hospitality.
Migrants are not a pleasant topic these days.
Back home, going through mountains of mail was a Refugee Facts001. Might be a good fact sheet to look at as this New Year begins.