“We’re checking in right now!”
I received this message a short while ago from a good friend who will soon be holding his first-born child. Well, let’s all hope it will be soon, for his wife’s sake. The waiting and expectation seem appropriate about now.
This time of year, many all over the world are in the advent season, which is a season of expectancy and of a new hope being welcomed into the world. And it’s not only the Christian tradition that has incorporated this season into its liturgical calendar. It’s not too difficult to notice how many other faiths have stories in this time of year when they remember a turning of the tide, a change in fortunes, or other shift in the story of their faith.
And also unmistakable for many is the proximity of this time to the longest night of the year and the lengthening of the days thereafter. Many point to the solstice, that global tipping point, as the “real” story behind so many ways that faiths remember the shifting or changing in their faith stories this time of year. And that makes a lot of sense, in some places.
But like much on this island has been revealed to me, the celebrations of this time of year are more sophisticated than the celebrations I knew before. Many say that the most important time of year for the Hawaiian faith is the time of the Makahiki, when the deities of the faith require that peace reign in these lands once more. But the coming of the Makahiki is not heralded by the interaction with a single star that holds this Earth in orbit. The Makahiki begins when the Na Huihui o Makali’i, a constellation of stars called the Pleaides or the Seven Sisters to English speakers, appears first in the night sky. And it is from these stars the Hawaiian faith teaches that the first inhabitants of this island came to Earth.
I remember peering through a telescope at the Gemini constellation with my friend, my friend about to welcome a new life into the world. My friend has a twin brother. And as we looked together at the constellation called “the twins,” I said, “I would have liked to be a twin.” And he said, “You would have been a good twin.” As someone who is not a twin, I could only accept what this authority on the subject told me. And similarly, as I gaze the next few months heavenward, I can rest in the comfort of knowing the first faith of this land, though not my own, calls this land into a time of peace.
The parents are watching, waiting. They enter this time of peace, this time of arrival and welcome with the wonder their parents knew, and theirs before them, ever on backward through light years of waiting. “We’re checking in right now!” Indeed, they are.
And may it ever be so.
Rev. T. J.
For more, I encourage you to read Wayne Smith’s article about the Makahiki and other wintertime celebrations in the Hawaiian faith (https://www.moolelo.com/ancient-celebration.html)