"May you live all the days of your life." - Jonathan Swift
"One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them." - Virginia Woolf
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer
Yesterday was December 19th, so I made my way to the Royal Palm Grove of Helumoa in the center of Waikiki to join the celebration of a royal birthday. It was Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop’s 177th. Hauoli La Hanau, Princess! The great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great, she was not only a chiefess of the highest order, but an educated Victorian lady, a Christian, and a member of a legitimate ruling royal family recognized by governments and heads of state throughout the world. She received her Hawaiian name (inoa) "Pau – Ahi" (finished – fire) when a house fire during her baby-hood kneeled and extinguished itself before her chiefly Mana (spiritual power) leaving her unharmed. It was at Helumoa in 1884 that Pauahi established the will & testament that would give birth to a wonderful legacy: The Kamehameha Schools. Though she died later that same year, her beloved husband Charles Reed Bishop carried out her fond wish to educate and succor the native youth of her dear Hawaii, for whom she felt urgent, and lifelong responsibility. Though the Kam Schools was (for a time) operated along the lines of the “Carlisle Indian Schools” model favored in the United States of those days for the “civilization” of indigenous youth, and later as a military school, this institution has become foremost in the field of Hawaiian Studies, Language, and Cultural Practice, and a source of pride to all Hawaiians. Her husband not only founded Bishop Bank, which has grown into today’s First Hawaiian Bank (my bank), and carried out her wishes to endow a first-rate private school, but the Bishop Museum – also founded by him in her honor – is the world’s leading scholarly institution for the research and preservation of Hawaiian and Pacific studies. In attendance yesterday were members of several Royal Societies, including the Daughters of Hawaii, in their antique regalia. Hula Halau Mohala Ilima performed a “name hula” in honor of Pauahi, there were prayers and remarks in Hawaiian Language and in English, and finally the Kupuna Kane (senior men) of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Glee Club sang some rousing numbers in a style one might have heard at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in a bygone day – except it was all in perfect Hawaiian. These activities were evidence of a living Mana, not dusty museum exhibits, as the Hawaiian people continue to negotiate their culture’s meaning and purpose from generation to generation. My Hawaiian neighbors are very much contemporary people with both modern and ancient kuleana (responsibilities). Helumoa was referred to in ancient times as an ‘Aina Momona’ – a fruitful land, whose famous palm trees were likened to giant Kahili (feathered Staffs- royal emblems) marking this sacred home of high chiefs. In honor of the day many fine Kahili were on display; and the ladies and gentlemen of the societies held many small ones called “kahili pa`a lima.” (‘Pa`a’ means “fixed, held fast” ‘lima’ is the word for ‘hand’ which I like because it is sort of a familiar nickname. ‘Lima’ means the number ‘5’ so we call the hand ‘the five’ [fingers]. Charming, I think.) To my way of thinking, the rarest treasures on display were these surviving faces of Hawaiian bloodlines: Na Pua(flowers), the Hawaiian people, who are indeed the choicest flower of this `Aina, this land of aloha. Our hearts are full of gratitude to the Ali`i, the Heavenly Chiefs who provided for posterity to the benefit of ALL.