Reaching for Hawaii, Gathering Mexico

Sisters at Sunset

I’ve had some trouble re-anchoring after my visit to Hawaii. It’s the same trouble I have when I visit Mexico, both Mexico and Hawaii being lands where I’ve lived and where my spirit found peace and comfort. Even more, where the balance of feminine and masculine energies come together in a wholeness I don’t experience in many places.

When I lived in Hawaii in 1992, I’d already lived in Mexico for three years, and I felt confounded and amazed from time to time about how much I remembered Mexico in a sameness that nurtured me. The ocean and beaches of course, but also the craggy land and the cattle and goats roaming free across scrubby land. The wide-open and often barren stretches of land. And when I speak of Hawaii, I’m talking about Hawaii Island rather than the entirety of the island chain.

It’s taken some time of wondering and thinking to come to a theory of why it’s difficult for me to be back. The only one that makes any sense is to say that the strength of both feminine and masculine energies feeds me in a way I’m not fed in the center of the country.

People who visit Mexico and Hawaii, even New Mexico for that matter, have a tendency to say “how beautiful” without really considering what they are saying. Yes. Each of those three places is beautiful. But they are also each fierce and tough. And while I have lived in each place, and don’t want to live there full-time again, I do yearn for that balance of beauty and fierce that softens my shoulders and puts a glide in my step.

They are easy places for me, who is tough and gentle, to feel at home.

Palenque

In Mexico, and in Hawaii, the sacred is an everyday part of life rather than an after thought or a Sunday church service. Perhaps because in both places, a ruling class came in and took over and the indigenous peoples held on to the sacred quality of their life as a refuge. But for whatever reason, the sacred is a part of the air and wind, a part of the scent of sea or desert or jungle. And the ancient sacred lives comfortably alongside modern religions. There’s no separateness. There is only a recognition of the whole.

In Palenque, in the depths of jungle green and misty clouds, the sacred rumbles just below conscious hearing.

And the divine feminine is a visible part of the whole.

At the famous Painted Church on Hawaii, the church building is justly famous for its colors and murals, and in the cemetery below, among neatly lined up white crosses, a lady stands on a natural rocky formation with a kneeling figure below her.

This is probably a statue of Mary although no name is given it on a plaque beside the rock. She could as easily be called the Lady of the Waves as she stands between the petitioner and the waves of the wide sea behind her. People have prayed to the divine feminine and asked for protection for countless centuries, long before Christianity.

Is the Protestant energy that founded this country responsible for the current “War on Women?” An anti-cleric, anti-Catholic history in this country may also account for the lack of wholly and holy feminine energy in all our lives, even today.

I wonder if that’s why a President’s wife is so important. She represents a feminine power source close to the top.

And that brings me to laughter. In Mexico and in Hawaii, laughter is close to the surface and bubbling over into conversations all the time. Laughter is a part of life. Laughter is a part of everyday living and conversations, sometimes just a conversation with self.

Old Man Laughing

This man from Mexico laughed all the time as he talked to me and as I struggled to make coherent sentences in Spanish. He laughed in delight at my clumsy attempts and he laughed to encourage me. In Hawaii, people laughed all the time: while dancing hula, shopping for gas, dropping a bag – oh, oops. And we talked story. By buying a container of pickled ginger, a simple purchase, I also bought laughter and stories of family and grandchildren.

And maybe, at base, it’s the mystery I miss. A mystery of why and how, the mystery of being a human on this life journey with other humans, a mystery of jungles and sea, of craggy mountains, and hidden walks.
And maybe what I’ve learned in all this musing and looking at photos and wondering and writing, is that I ask why all too often. Too often I try to figure things out, a very American characteristic, it seems. Maybe I just need to live in the mystery and let all of the rest of it be as it will.

Just look over my shoulder…and laugh.
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Found Treasures #1

The tale that wouldn’t stop wagging

In the latest office move and resultant clearing out and tossing, I’ve found saved treasurers that, taken together, may become a series: ergo the title. And like all saved gems, regardless of the makeup (glass, plastic, paper, pottery), they have a story. This story is The Tale That Wouldn’t Stop Wagging. And yes, I’ve used “tale” and not “tail.”

The tale really begins with my older sister Judy and me and sixty plus years of experiences, fighting as two sisters often do, and taking care, as sisters also tend to do.

The first time we each married, we married within two years of each other. Our children are stair-stepped in ages and the oldest grandchildren in the family. We both tended children and homes for a good many years and we both divorced. And then we each remained single for a good many more years. The last time we each married, the timing also ran to about two years apart, but until then we spent a lot of time taking care of each other in one way or another.

The Tale That Wouldn’t Stop Wagging is one of the reminders of that care taking.

The way we are different is also predictable: Judy, as oldest is remarkably responsible: a good employee; I, as second child, am remarkably irresponsible, never holding down a full-time job with benefits job in my life. We’ve both moved a lot, but my moves have tended toward the extreme while hers have remained in the Continental United States. This is minor, but figures into the tale of tails.

In the early 1980s, I lived in New York City for a few years. I can’t remember how or why I became a member of the Humane Society of New York, but I did. I had a cat, but she’d come to New York from New Orleans, so it wasn’t as if I used their services much. But I became a member.

And then, in the late 1980s, I moved to Mexico City. The cat lived with friends, and I left a forwarding address of Bellingham, WA, which is where my sister, her last name also Sunderland, lived at the time. Judy received the newsletters from the humane society. And then she moved from one address in Bellingham to another, and of course, the humane society was able to track that.

And then, she became Sunderland-Yorkey, and the humane society took note. Every once in a while, she’d receive another newsletter. And then she moved, with her husband, to Spring Texas. But still in the Continental United States with no gaps in addresses.

In about 2007, years after she moved, and years after I’d moved to Kansas City, and years after getting the last Humane Society of New York newsletter back in Bellingham, the above envelope arrived, replete with printed tails. She called and told me and we laughed long and hard, and then she sent it to me, and I wrote, “The tale that wouldn’t stop wagging” on it, and put it in a file, thinking it would be a good story someday. And then I responsibly cleaned out the file, found it again, and it is a good story.

That’s the problem with being responsible. Things find you.

Now she’s moved again but I’m still in Kansas City, a hyphenated-name in the files of the Humane Society of New York. But a few years have passed. Time enough for return envelopes to return and a new address begun. Eventually, another envelope will wend its way to where she is.

The tale to be continued, in one way or another, or as Judy puts it, “I’ve no doubt that when/if I get to Heaven, within a couple of weeks I will have mail from the NY H. S. addressed to “Janet Sunderland-Yorkey!”

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