Saturday, January 3, 2009

God Boxes

click on photos to enlarge!

Japanese Buddhist Temple; a few blocks- but miles away from Honolulu's Wal-mart.

"Soft drink and computer companies play the roles of deities in our culture. They are creating our most powerful iconography, they are the ones building our most Utopian monuments." - Naomi Klein

Temple Guardians

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree."
Albert Einstein

"Kodomatsu" outside of a store. The Bamboo is strong, bound together like families should be, and the evergreen is for longevity, rebirth & growth. A Japanese New Year folk item popular in Hawaii.

Here in Hawaii we have a rather ecumenical approach to faith that is more common in Asia than in the West. Christian prayers are said in Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, Micronesian, and many other languages. Some Christians will participate in ethnic and cultural practices favored by their ancestors, so that we live in something of a religious "truce zone." Perhaps it's the tropical light, something in the air, or merely the familiarity bred by generations of living together on small islands, but we allow our faith to outgrow the boxes of custom & doctrine that He must keep to elsewhere. Yesterday, my favorite husband accompanied me to the Izumo Taishakyo Mission, a local Shinto shrine built so many years ago that the city and it's highways have grown up all around it. It is customary for such shrines to be open on New Years Day so that people may come for a magical blessing to assure good health and good luck in the dawning year. Though yesterday was January 2nd, the shrine remained open for meditation and the purchase of lucky amulets (omamori) & talismans (ofuda). A Shinto priest was present to welcome us. As we took off our footwear to enter, I enquired about the availability of the blessings which are somewhat akin to REIKI, Qi Gong, or other "energy treatments" (as complementary medicine and the institutes of health refer to them). I was disappointed when he told me that the traditional blessings were usually done on the first day only. Then, pausing, he seemed to re-consider. Taking up his ceremonial pole, from which sheaves of folded rice-paper cascaded, he danced and dangled it above me, touching my head with it, as a profound gratitude for Mystery, Magic, and the ways of my fellow Earth passengers filled me. It was gratitude to the One Source of Love (call it what you will) for so many years of life, for the dawning of a new one, for EVERYTHING! Next, the priest repeated these actions over my husband's head too. Then we two sat together, holding hands, as we admired the art and antiques of the shrine, and imbibed the healing energies of peace therein. We departed in reverence, and well-being. The label on the "box" we had visited was of less significance than the gift of mindfulness that we had received. What ever box YOU keep your God in, if your box if filled with mystery, or even if it seems "empty;" I salute you with my best wishes for healing, magic & joy. "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good - O Lord please don't let me be misunderstood." Rock Lyric

A L O H A! Cloudia