Essays by Liah

Below this article  
There is a list of some of the articles that Liah has published over the years.  

liah essays

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Societal immersion calls for a letting go of old ways and embracing new culture with an open mind and heart. A Haole like me, learning to embody the spirit of Aloha, must first become aware of the conditioning from which I came in order to learn to live life differently. Likewise, an American assimilating to France can learn the language, but, a bit of the old accent will remain until gradually over time, there is a merging with the language, people and customs. During the many years I've lived in Maui I have been blessed to have learned about the great spirit of Aloha.

I remember shortly after I moved to Maui my youngest son joined the local paddling team. I was excited he was reaching out and making new friends and learning a new sport. However, I had no idea he was going to be immersed in the heart of Hawaiian culture. I honestly thought he was going to get in shape and make friends. I soon learned that The Aloha spirit permeated every aspect of paddling, from the prayer or pule offered before every race, to the lei that was lovingly draped on the paddler’s tired neck at the end of the regatta. This Aloha was felt as a spirit of union, love and harmony with the Divine and each other. I could also detect a strong sense of reverence and respect for the land or aina and the sea or kai. I was welcomed into the sacred circle of love in the Ohana of the canoe club and gradually learned what “aloha” felt like.

Another lesson of aloha was offered to me during the first week of my son paddling. One day, while I was waiting for him to finish paddling practice I became quite hot in the sun. I decided to rest against an old low rock wall under the shade of a Kiawe tree and check my cell phone. The shade was a welcome relief from the heat of the day. Within two minutes a man who had been quietly putting paddles away, came over to me and said very kindly “Could you please not sit there, this is a Heiau. a sacred site to us Hawaiians.” He then smiled and went on to explain that a Heiau is to be honored and revered. I felt like I had just committed the sin of washing my face in the holy water at a Catholic church. I jumped up and said “I’m so very sorry, I didn’t know.” As I stepped away from the rock wall and took a minute to take in the specialness of this site, I realized that the rocks were in a definite rectangle formation defined by a flat surface in the center.

Reflecting on my experience that day, I realized I had felt neither judged nor scoffed by the Hawaiian man. He was gracious when he asked me to move and was kind when he explained the purpose of the Heiau. His loving manner opened my heart and allowed me to see beyond my mainland perspective.

Since that time, I have grown in my understanding of the spirit of Aloha and it has been an unexpected gift of living in Hawaii. With each passing year I feel myself assimilating more and more into the Hawaiian culture and leaving behind my “mainland mode”. I now smile and say “Aloha” with the awareness of what that means.