Saturday, October 16, 2010

E Ala E: The heavens declare the glory


I learned the Hawaiian sunrise chant "E Ala E" at an unlikely place -- the parking lot of a hotel on Kauai. It was taught by a Niihau native who was a Marriott employee. She teaches the sun chant to tourists at the Kauai Marriott.

The Niihau islanders bring this chant, every month, to healing ceremonies for Kaho' olawe, the island sacred to Hawaii's ocean god, which was desecrated and finally abandoned by the military.

A week later, on the island of Maui, we drove to the top of the volcano Haleakala for sunrise, and as gold and red colors filled the sky, a ranger just behind me sang the sun rise chant, with rabbinical power, a goosebump moment.

Last week in our PUMC Discipleship class we studied the Creation stories, including Psalm 19, 4b-6. "In the heavens he has a set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and nothing is hidden from its heat." I had paired that Psalm to a sunrise photo and liked the bridegroom/wedding canopy image and "strong man runs the course with joy."

Last month we had two wonderful sun-rise encounters, while on a Tauck America's Canyonlands Tour. At the Grand Canyon, we arrived at our lookout point in pitch dark, dressed for the chill, to watch the wonder unfold.
At Bryce, the light cast on the hoodoos was also well-worth losing sleep.

It was a spiritual experience, deepened by opportunities to interact with Navajo guides who shared their faith. Thanks to YouTube, here are sun-awakening songs from Native Americans who have somehow, in a white man's world, retained their inner strength and harmony with God and nature.

This Comanche Peyote song greets the dawn on Sunday morning. From the caption: It is to be sung on the birth of a new Sunday. When the sunlight hits the sky in the early dawn morning. When the very edge of the sun rays meet the silver glimmer of the clouds and the sky. It's lyrics are in reference to the beginning of a new day. A new day that brings comfort and happiness. This songs asks for God (The Creator) to make the prayers a reality.

Here is an early morning blessing from the Navajo.

After these glories of Creation, it seems small-minded to worry about whether to interpret the Genesis Creation stories literally. To quote from the Disciple study: "The Jews, who have lived with Genesis for a long time, are amazed that Christians want to literalize the poetry...The symbol of seven days is a faith days are poetic symbols to show form and to remind us to order our lives as God has ordered the universe."

As suggested by Psalm 90:4: "A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night."

In other words, worry less about creationism vs evolution and more about keeping the Sabbath, more about blessing each new day, especially on the seventh day.

One more -- a beautiful Cherokee morning song.

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