This morning, Sunday, 9:30 AM: I gulped my black rocket fuel from the hot stainless-steel travel mug, juggling my brief case, keys, and overstuffed purse as I hoped that I could get to Studio City, find a parking spot, and dash into church before 10:00 AM worship starts. Not that anyone takes roll -- it's just that my early indoctrination about being ON TIME has stuck with me after all these years.
I briefly considered "ditching," telling myself that I had "too much" to catch up on before seeing my afternoon clients.
Now I'm glad I didn't.
The sermon title on the marquee, "Showing Up and Saying YES!" was certainly intriguing. Quietly opening the door at the back of the sanctuary, the first thing I saw and heard was this man, Jason Poole, calling us to the service with Sounding the Pu and Oli Aloha, traditional Hawaiian welcoming chants. This was new to me, and beautiful.
Jason's talk, about listening to one's inner voice (demonstrated by touching his middle torso) spoke to the need to reach out to others. It also was about the triumph of courage over doubt, indifference, and fear of involvement. His premise, the benefit of saying "yes" when one's knee-jerk reaction is to retreat with a "no," flies in the face of much of our isolating tendencies. All too often, our self-protective "boundaries" have become barricades, interfering with our ability to serve our neighboring human beings. When Jason touched his torso, I thought of the old expression "having a fire in one's belly," and what it is for people to be truly passionate about life.
Jason told about his life journey from Pittsburgh to New York City to Molokai, Hawaii, transitions driven originally by his triumph over illness and a desire to express himself through the dramatic arts. His voice was clear and vibrant, keeping our collective rapt attention. When he gave us several musical offerings on his ukulele, I noticed more than one person moved to tears of joy.
Jason teaches classes in Hawaiian music to New York City youth, and I would love to suggest that he expand this work to include senior citizens. Music is so transcendent, I can visualize the mental health benefits for elders with depression or early-stage dementia.
Check out Jason Poole Pilipo Solatario's blog at: http://themolokainews.com