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Hawaii Bishop on Volcano, Flood

The Rt. Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop of Hawaii, writes in the diocese’s latest newsletter:

Years ago, when my family and I moved to Hawaiʻi, a very wise person told me: “In the Islands, you are close to heaven with newly formed mountains above, near to hell with the volcano beneath your feet, and set in the womb of creation (the ocean and the winds) teeming all around you, so you have to trust in God.”

These past few weeks have been about trusting in God. How do you explain the shattering of a national rainfall record in one corner of the island of Kauaʻi? In the broad area of the Big Island, the fissures opened in a relatively isolated subdivision destroying homes and changing lives forever. Why there?

In Hawai’i, we respect nature. Living in the middle of the Ocean, we always know that human life is fragile and set in a much larger reality — physical and spiritual. I am reminded of the words of a great teacher, Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia, in his book Waves of God’s Embrace: Sacred Perspectives from the Ocean (Canterbury Press, 2008, p.46):

The lives of ancient Oceanic people were shaped by perseverance, discoveries, excitement, huge hardship and achievement and failures in their endeavors. Life in this new context was very much shaped by and nurtured by the Oceanic world. The core of this is emerging, transforming belief and culture was their perception of the interconnectedness of the gods, the environment and life on board the vaka (double-hulled voyaging canoe). The sense of interconnectedness contributed powerfully to the formation and development of their settlement into their new environment in newly found islands. Life was about relating to fellow voyagers, to moana (the ocean) and to the sky and gods.

So, now, in a time when answers do not come easily, we to turn to God and we care for others. We are all voyagers on the holy vaka of life. We need one another. In the future, some will rebuild and others will have move to new homes. For now, we help as we can.

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