Death by Ho’okipa

Friday, February 10, 2023

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 CEB

Within three days of our arrival in Hawaii, we had received so many gifts, in particular food items, that Rod joked about death by ho’okipa. It is part of the Hawaiian culture to give gifts, of lei, of food, of all kinds of items. Such gifts are called “ho’okipa,” the Hawaiian word for hospitality.

We had packages of coffee, a variety of cookies, tea and honey from Molokai, local kinds of snacks and candy, and water bottles. But the gift that most surprised and delighted me was one that I received during a visit to the Hawaii Conference United Church of Christ office to see a friend.

Aloha is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion, and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting but has a deeper cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians, for whom the term is used to define a force that holds together existence. It is made of two words, “alo” or face and “ha” (breath, spirit). It implies encountering another face-to-face, breath-to-breath attention.  

Aloha expresses a summary of the law and prophets, according to none other than Jesus. Love. It’s packable, wearable, washable, and best of all, it is good for all. It is life affirming.

With aloha, Anne

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