Corpus Christi in Honolulu

Flowers and cross

Aloha! Today, Catholic churches celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, still often called by its Latin name Corpus Christi. This celebration is close to my heart because for the many years that I belonged to Blessed Sacrament parish, we celebrated it as our parish name day. Even though that is no longer my parish, I still feel a special connection to the day.

This year was special because I got to attend mass at St. Patrick Church in Honolulu, where my daughter E and her husband were married and where they serve in the music ministry. My son-in-law is away doing research for his doctoral dissertation, but I attended the 8:30 mass at which their choir sings. The assigned cantor wasn’t able to make it, so E stepped in to do it, which was a lovely bonus for me.

One of the things that drew my attention today was the crucifix, which is carved wood. I was thinking about how appropriate that the corpus on the cross is brown, because Jesus’s skin would have been brown. So often, Jesus is depicted with light skin, which a Jewish man living in the sun-drenched Mediterranean would not have had. I also noticed, as always, the colorful floral arrangement. One of the brothers at the monastery arranges the flowers from their garden every week.

Father C, who presided at E and L’s wedding, presided and preached today. I love how he can say so much with so few words. He used the image of an open hand receiving the host at communion to explain how we should be open to God’s love.

Father C has a tremor disorder, which causes his hands, especially his right hand, to shake markedly when they are outstretched. Yet, when he was praying the Eucharistic prayer and raising the host and the cup, he was able to still his hands.

I appreciated the opportunity to be there to celebrate this special day, with Beth leading us in song. I especially enjoyed singing “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether,” a favorite hymn which I have not had the occasion to sing for several years.  The third stanza of the poem by Percy Dreamer begins:

All our meals and all our living
make as sacraments of you,
that by caring, helping, giving,
we may be disciples true.

Amen!

Poetry on the front page

Our hotel gives us the Honolulu Star*Advertiser each morning. I was pleased to see a front page story this morning about poetry, “Poems give voice to students’ creativity,” by Michael Tsai.  (I had hoped to share the link, but the paper has very strict access requirements.)

The article talked about the month-long residency of Hawai’i-born poet Laurel Nakanishi at Palolo Elementary sponsored by the nonprofit Pacific Writers’ Connection. The fourth grade class which is the focus of the article has 18 of 23 students who are English language learners, meaning that English is not their first language. The usually reticent students come alive when they write and share poetry.

I was especially struck by this paragraph:

Such indulgences in creative arts and the humanities were supposed to have become extinct from school curricula in the age of rigid standardized testing. But as a growing number of elementary school teachers can attest, every hour spent practicing the fundamentals of free verse returns dividends of creativity, expressiveness in figurative language and overall language sensitivity that measure well on current Common Core State Standards and other assessments.

I was thinking about the young poets who participate in the Binghamton Poetry Project both in the classroom and in extra-curricular sessions.  Their obvious joy in poetry and using language in new ways mirrors that of the students who worked with Nakanishi in Honolulu.

The power of poetry!

Lantern Floating Ceremony in Honolulu

My daughter attended this year’s ceremony. The combining/adaptation/re-interpretation of cultural elements doesn’t surprise me as it happens so frequently in Hawai’i. Thanks to Within the K Streets for this post and to Rowena of beyondtheflow, whose reblog brought me here.
JC

WITHIN THE K STREETS

“I’m not coming out until you promise not to float me.”

Since 1999, an esoteric Buddhist denomination called Shinnyo-en has sponsored a “Lantern Floating” ceremony on Memorial Day to create a moment of reflection and collective compassion and remember those who have passed.

The name “Shinnyo-en” means “a borderless garden of the unchanging and real nature of things,” and its principal doctrine encourages everyone to develop the ability to act with unwavering loving kindness and compassion. That’s a pretty good thing, methinks.

Lantern close upThe original Lantern Floating was a modest affair, held in a lagoon out near Honolulu Airport but grew in popularity and since 2002 it has been held annually at Ala Moana Beach Park, the major regional park adjacent to Waikiki.

How popular is it? About 40,000 people attend the ceremony. Folks stake out their positions on the lawn areas 24 hours in advance and guard their position…

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The Bishop Museum

We spent the day at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. We had never been there before and were glad we decided to visit.

It is chock-full of artifacts, reproductions, and information from all periods of Hawaiian history. I especially liked the textiles, leis, and feather-work. I appreciated learning how the Hawaiians used the phases of the moon to keep time, with a name for each night of the lunar cycle. The moon governed activities such as planting crops and fishing. Attached to Hawaiian Hall is Pacific Hall, which examines commonalities among the peoples of Oceania.

There was a calendar overflowing with presentations by staff members. We attended a talk about native plants and a fantastic storyteller, relating a long tale of one of Hawai’i’s many gods. We saw a planetarium show about how the Polynesians used the stars to navigate, along with winds, currents, and birds, to find their way among the tiny islands in the vast Pacific. Brent and I went to a lava demonstration, where we got to hold various kinds of lava rocks, including the incredibly dense pillow lava from a deep underwater volcano, and see lava pour from a 2,000 degree furnace.

I even had a typical Hawaiian lunch at the museum’s cafe, featuring kalua pork and cabbage.

There was more to see than time allowed. I hope we will be able to visit again when we come back in the future.

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