Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bouncing Into Graceland


Early Hawaiians had a strong sense of justice and morality which they codified as the Kapu, code of conduct.  They believed that violation of this code constituted a crime not only against their community and social contract but also against larger spiritual forces; a theft of mana.  The penalty for such a crime was Ko'o Kapu, death, typically enforced by chasing the offender down on foot and killing them by hand.

This strikes me as a severe system of punishment for what are generally known as peaceful and laid-back people.  It smacks of the unfairness of life, the lack of forgiveness and permanent nature of our mistakes.  Further, it shows how prevalent ruling with fear is, that the practice of social control through brute force is, and has been, pervasive among all human cultures.  The Hawaiians, however, have a loophole.  If you were convicted but could outrun your captors and reach a place a refuge, a Puuhonua, then you were granted immunity as long as you resided within its walls.  Some of these places of refuge were only reached by water.

I think it is important for all of us to remember that even in our darkest hours, even when faced with oppression, evil, or our own demons overpowering our better angels, there are always places of refuge, lands of grace, if only we can find our way.  

To Listen to Paul Simon's Graceland:


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For the Birds

Storm Home

This year the early snows and freezing frost have draped the Douglas Firs outside our house in white.  The fog has not lifted for a week.  With it has come an eerie and lonely kind of silence, like the whole world is waiting, suspended, for the light and warmth to return.  I feel this way myself; encased and cold.  I am in transition, pushing forward into something that I cannot quite define the edges of.  With my cup of coffee I watch the trees, stoic and waiting.  I wonder if the thaw will ever come.  

And then the sun breaks. A flock of bright yellow birds descends, announcing their arrival in a great cacophony of song and color.  I have not seen these birds before, and it seems impossible that they are here now, covering the branches closest to the window where I sit.  They disappear before I have a chance to document them with a picture, and just as quickly the fog wraps itself back around the house.  They do this for four straight days.  And when the fog lifts, they disappear, moving on to their intended destination, the grove outside our house having simply been a refuge, a layover until the wind shifted, and they could again find their path.

I take comfort in this and imagine myself perched, waiting for the fog to lift.     

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sitz Bones to Heels


Push against me friend, 
I shall push against you.
Lend me your weight,
Let us stack our bones.
Pause a moment in the air.
Place yourself beneath me,
Dance us to the floor.
Curl beside me,
I will cover you.
Pause a moment, on the ground.
Take my hand, friend
Let us walk together.
Swing our arms, 
Find the reaches of the space,
a moment in time.
Push against me friend, and I shall push against you.