In the past four weeks, we’ve crossed the continent (covering 3,500 miles) in our black Camry.
On that crossing: We had dinner with a saintly, eighty-four year old, Jesuit priest in Portland, Oregon; we had high tea with a Japanese Buddhist. We stayed in the home of the eldest of eight siblings in a Mormon family, that traces its roots to the earliest in Salt Lake City. In Missouri, we broke bread and bared souls with a Unity minister–a woman whose heart and mind are as open as the roads we traversed across Nebraska.
In Louisville, Kentucky–we stayed in the home of the man who blew the conch shell that summoned guests to ‘Iokepa and my Hawaiian wedding, many years ago. In Charleston, West Virginia, we had deep and meaningful conversation with Southern Baptists of the mega-church variety.
Now, we are in Baltimore with my Jewish family for Mother’s Day.
Religion makes a difference; culture makes a difference–and well it should. ‘Iokepa Hanalei ‘Imaikalani would be the last to say otherwise. Return Voyage is about embracing and celebrating those differences.
Return Voyage is not–and never will be–evangelical. We convert no one. We assume: Each of us were born with our own answers, and that those answers require no more than awakening–not obliterating, under somebody else’s certainties.
Some people encounter ‘Iokepa and Return Voyage with fear, and with suspicion: “What is this Native Hawaiian culture?” is the question spoken aloud, asserting doubt. The unspoken question is: “Does it threaten mine?”
The authentic Native Hawaiian culture threatens no one. Return Voyage doesn’t impose, doesn’t extract; does not have your answers. ‘Iokepa has said: “You don’t have to give up anything. This is about making you more of who you already are.”
The Native Hawaiian people have always been (perhaps, to the detriment of their own culture) about: Acceptance, inclusion. They were free of any and all judgment; they rejected war, hierarchy, sexism, racism. You get the picture. The Return Voyage is the reflection of that culture.
Fear–and it’s reactive judgment of the other–was the infection that that had to be injected by the very folks to whom ‘Iokepa’s ancestors opened their hands and hearts.
It would have been nice if when those first missionaries arrived in the 1820s; when the first capitalists came a generation later; and when the New Age gurus arrived more recently, they had accorded the Native Hawaiians the same privilege.
Respect does not seem to be too stringent a requirement.