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Spirituality and Big Island Volcano Tours
Spirituality to me is about connection and meaning and communing with nature. In Hawaii, and in particular, while taking the Big Island volcano tour, I felt more in touch with my own spirituality.
Whether it’s walking through a black lava field, hearing a planet rumble, or smelling the smoke rising from the center of the Earth, it’s only when I’m on top of an active volcano somewhere that I believe there is one. A power greater than me. Or there is a divine order in the universe. Or indeed my life and my problems are incomparable in the grand scheme of things, in the shadow of creation and destruction, beside an erupting volcano.
Some pray to a higher power, some to the universe, some to God. But when you walk through a crater in the center of one of the world’s most active and longest-erupting volcanoes, you meet Pele, the Hawaiian deity who rules the islands and is said to reside deep within Kilauea’s heart. She doesn’t want to be angry with you.
In ancient Hawaiian spirituality, there was and still is a deep connection and respect for the elements and nature. There is respect for ancestors and a belief that their spirits still guide later generations. These islands are a blend of mythology, legend and modern culture.
Visiting the rainforests, waterfalls, lava tubes, and lava flows of Big Island Volcanoes National Park, I felt a connection to all the elements (kumu) that Hawaiians chant and hula dancers tell their stories about. I have felt the ancient connection of air (ha), fire (ahi), water (wai) and earth (honua).
Most of all, you feel aloha in Hawaii. Aloha means love and also means “with breath”. If the elements of nature are Hawaii’s spirituality, then aloha is Hawaii’s religion. Aloha, when stripped of all its tourism and consumerism, is about connecting with each other and connecting with nature. It is forgiveness and compassion. It is about shared experience and shared meaning.
Some find this meaning in a church or on a beach, but I find this shared meaning at the top of Kilauea, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa. I find it deep in a lava tube cave. I find it on the banks of a fast flowing river of hot molten lava. I find it in wet rainforests and in the barren, barren areas of a primitive lava bed. I find it in the ancient spirits that still roam the island of Hawaii. I breathe it in the flower-scented air and see it carved into the towering rocks of this volcanic land.
I seek the spirituality of the islands; I discover my own spirituality with every breath I take in Hawaii. With every aloha I breathe.
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