To The Moon
It must have been a terrifying experience. The clouds gathered. The winds picked up. And the water began to rise. It must have been hard to build a boat in the rain, a boat big enough to weather the storm, to withstand the flooding. And it must have been scary to try to build a house on the boat, more of an ark, to carry him to safety and provide a place to stay for the duration of the flood. And doing all of this while the God who brought the flood into being watched and waited must have been confusing.
I was reminded of this story this week. This is the story of Nu’u-pule, or praying Nu’u, from the Hawaiian faith. I know, it sounds like other popular stories from other lands. Indeed survival of floods, of deluges, are stories that are part of many cultures. And there is no evidence to suggest that the Nu’u story did not exist independently, long before any missionaries arrived in these lands, carrying the Book of Genesis and the story of Noah.
The independent existence of stories about floods, about waves crashing over everyone around us and chasing us to higher ground is no mystery. Who hasn’t been in a period where they can barely keep their head above water? Who hasn’t looked up from a swirl of pain or discomfort or confusion and wondered from where will my help come? The floods of emotions many of us know are sometimes made even more painful when it seems that there is literally no one else on earth who can help us. Or worse, maybe the people or the forces that are meant to help us let us down. Many of us need a lifeboat at times.
Nu’u escaped the flood and landed atop Mauna Wakea (Mauna Kea, today) and in gratitude for his safety, he made sacrifices to the moon he saw in the sky. But it was not the moon that saved him. The great God Kāne descended to Mauna Wakea on a rainbow (the story in Genesis had a rainbow too, we might note), and Kāne explained to Nu’u the way he had come to be saved at last atop the towering mountain peak.
I have been atop Mauna Kea to see the full moon rise. Breathless and giddy at the height, shivering at the temperature, a friend and I saw the moon glide up into sight, transit across the star-specked night, and light the darkness once more. I would have made a sacrifice to the moon then and there, too. And maybe I should have. Maybe it would have pleased the Gods and prevented the flooding we see this week. Maybe it would have pleased the Gods to know how grateful I was in that moment to witness such beauty. Maybe it would have pleased the Gods to know how that moment inspired me to be a better refuge from the floods of life for those who matter most to me. It hope it pleases Kāne to know I will try to be a better boat upon his ocean.
And I pray it may always be so.
Rev. T. J.