Huli the bowl! and
set myself free –
by releasing these stones
I can choose to be me.

I committed this little ditty to paper shortly after returning home from a Solstice ceremony led by a man of mixed Hawaiian descent. In the interceding years since that event, I have been privileged to call M. Kalani Souza friend. He remains one of the wisest and most engaging men I have know.

During that ceremony several years ago, Kalani spoke and sang in simple yet profound phrases that created openings for people to think, if they wanted to. Huddled together with folks mostly unknown to us, we gathered in the damp and drizzle of a verdant hillside on the northeast face of Hawaii island. It was the first ceremony my husband and I had attended since our recent move back to these islands after a twenty-year absence.

Contained in a circle of stones, flames arched and crackled into inky heavens above, while Kalani danced in the shadows – long hair spinning in the wind like some shaman in a trance. The small crowd gazed spellbound, as he freely cast his particular brand of magic like seeds among us; seeds that were free to germinate or not, depending on the willingness of minds to provide a fertile medium. Stories related were heard through a child’s ears while growing up on these islands – tales told by grandparents, by wise elders.

The word huli, when used as a verb, means to flip or turn over. It is also used as an adjective, as in “I got huli stomach.”

If the young boy Kalani came home disgruntled, agitated by some of life’s less predictable people and circumstances, Grandmother used to tell her grandson to huli the bowl. At the same time, she motioned with her hands, as if emptying a bowl of water onto the ground. She explained that we are all born with empty bowls. When judgments are cast upon us, we carry that hurt in our hearts. In goes a stone. Pretty soon we are carrying a bowl full of stones around, and it gets to be a burden.

What Grandmother encouraged, and at times demanded, was to empty the bowl at the end of every day, just as the sun sets over the water. That way, tomorrow’s another day we reclaim for ourselves – another clean slate.

6 thoughts on “HULI!

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