but it also means to cherish and respect the spirit of the land. Malama ‘aina also treasures the stories the land carries over millennia of time.
Our wonderful Ho’omana Lomi Ohana (family) has been caretaking beautiful taro patches in the sacred valley of Wailua Nui on the East side of island for the last decade. Many of you reading this post have had the opportunity to malama ‘aina in this heavenly place over the years. We love clearing the lo’i kalo (taro patch), harvesting, or best of all LOMIing the ‘aina with our bare feet to prepare for planting huli (new shoots).
In our most recent visit this month, one of our students shared with me he felt watched over by the spirits of the land. Beginning with the journey into the valley, including the entire time we were there he felt their presence.
It reminded me of a story shared by the owner of one of the patches we cleared that day.
Uncle’s family has been in this valley practicing their ancient planting ways for more than 1000 years. After raising his family and retiring, Uncle felt called to return to the family land to reopen the family lo’i kalo that had become over grown. The first day he tried to open the upper terrace, a swarm of bees sent him running down the valley. He saw this as a message from the ancestors to tread with clear intention and mindfulness.
The next time Uncle journeyed up the valley, he began to hear rhythmic beats of ancient drums. Immediately, he stripped down to his bare skin and prostrated himself. He crawled on his belly to the upper terrace with reverence and humility. The drumbeats ceased and Uncle began his kuleana (responsibility) of caretaking. He now has several lo’i with 3 terraces planted in various stages of growth.
To think that this elderly man, whose family has worked the land over centuries of time, felt to pay homage in such a humble manor is both moving and inspiring!
Ancient Hawaiians did not believe that one should have ownership over that land. Instead, we were created to be stewards. As stewards, we nurture our relationship to and with the land. In turn, our needs will always be cared for by that land and it’s elements.
Have you had a spiritual experience connected to the earth? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. If you are ready to connect with the spirits and stories of the land, get grounded and Malama ‘aina with me in the taro patch on May 21st. Call Reception to RSVP (808)573-8256.