Finally, my ship has come in. Well, not a ship exactly. A wa’a. A wa’a kaulua. A Hawaiian ocean-going canoe. Her name is derived from a celestial light, Arcturis, which Hawaiians call Hokule’a, the Star of Gladness. When a Hawaiian voyager sees this star, she knows she is almost home, and as we all learned from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home.
Yes, my ship has come in. But it isn’t laden with treasures that can be put in a vault, a bank or an investment account. My economic status will not be raised by her particular kind of bounty. But there are treasures. The kind that are meant to be shared.
Like the mystery of the human-world connection characterized by the words pono (balance), kuleana (responsibility), malama (taking care of) and ano (awe).
Like the realization that you can never be truly lost. When darkness descends and clouds obscure the stars, you need only find one point of light, and from there the map will redraw itself.
Like the certitude that you are not alone. When your strength fails, your fellow voyagers are there to care for you and lift you up.
Like the knowledge that the wisdom handed down to you by your kupuna (ancestors) still has value in the world today.
Like the joy of adventure and discovery and the talk-story, mele (song), hula (dance) inspired by it.
Like the healing experienced when hospitality is shared between the people of the wa’a and the First Peoples of the aina (land).
Like the hope of a letter in a bottle sent by one in need, received by one who has the power and the will to assist.
Mystery, realization, certitude, knowledge, joy, healing and hope are bountiful wherever Hokule’a sails.
I have been blessed to receive these treasures from my kupuna through the hard work and dedication of the these voyagers of the wa’a and I will joyfully send them off in a few days because I know that this is a gift to share – to remind everyone to look to the stars and find their own Hokule’a – that point of light which calls them into a closer relationship with the beauty of this world and those who malama her.
Note: This little meditation came to me after a presentation called: “He Lani Ko Luna (A Sky Above): An Evening with the Navigators of the Hokule’a Worldwide Voyage” at the Hayden Planetarium in NYC with Captain & Pwo Navigator Chad Kalepa Baybayan and Apprentice Navigator Celeste Manuia Ha’o. Mahalo to them both for a wonderful evening.