It’s awkward to admit, but even after living in Hawaii for 15 years, I’m not much of a fish eater unless it is battered, fried and then drenched with lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of salt. I think it is because of my mom’s fear of fish bones which can get stuck in your throat and kill you. Any time we had fresh fish (as opposed to Mrs. Paul’s), mom spent most of the meal warning us to watch out for bones. Fishing around for those miniscule bones was a matter of life and death because mom had a friend named Christine who was eating fish, choked on a tiny bone and died. I suspect that the crunchiness of batter-fried fish masks any bones.
If eating cooked fish could be dangerous, eating raw fish could be fatal. This made for some adventures on the islands where fresh fish and sushi made from the same were abundant. It was easy enough to avoid order sushi from a menu, but not so easy when it was made with love by a parishioner as a part of a pot-luck meal. I could often simply pass by those offerings unnoticed and load up on other items.
But there was one time when I was the guest preacher at a congregation on another island. One of their members (Auntie 2) was a sister to one of the members (Auntie 1) at the church I served. For weeks before flying to the neighbor island, Auntie 1 reminded me that her sister would be there. I was greeted by Auntie 2 with a flower lei and much aloha when I arrived.
Following worship, I made my way through the buffet line, and skipped the numerous platters of sushi. Auntie 2 waved me over to the table she was sitting at, and noticed I hadn’t taken any sushi. She jumped up and returned to the table with a couple of pieces of her sushi, made especially to honor me. Ignoring mom’s voice in the back of my head, I ate the sushi, and graciously smiled as I washed it down with water.
There is a simple proverb about love in the Hawaiian culture, “Aloha aku no, aloha mai no.” It means, “I give my love to you, you give your love to me.) Auntie gave her love to me in the form of sushi, and I gave my love to her by eating it.
Jesus sent his disciples out with these instructions for receiving hospitality, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide.” That is living out the rule of love.
Love your neighbor as yourself ~ Anne