This article (and its added poem, which I posted here years ago) is long, so I hope you will hang in and continue reading. And if it strikes a chord in your heart, please share. It is my feeling that New Zealand could use your prayers today.
I AWOKE THIS MORNING to learn of the latest earthquake in New Zealand, a country that, as many know, is prone to such things. Some report it as a 7.5, others as a 7.8. Either way you look at it, it was large. Unlike the Christchurch earthquake, this one was inland and deeper. It was also bigger. The subsequent aftershocks have been large, shallow, and some have migrated northward. And there have been beginning tsunamis and casualties.
BACKTRACK, IF YOU WILL, to 2011. This time I wasn’t on the other side of the ocean. I was landing in Auckland – two hours after the Christchurch earthquake hit. As I watched the story unfold day after day for the next two weeks with all its aftershocks and increasingly bleak coverage, and as I personally walked small forest trails and ocean’s black sands, stared at calm sunsets and wild cloudy skies, I found myself touched beyond measure.
THIS WRITING BELOW feels as important to me now as it did then. As I read it again, I couldn’t help but feel that tucked within, there is perhaps a message for us all. It is a small homage to the spirit and heart of the Land of the Long White Cloud and of its people. New Zealanders, in my experience, are a strong kind people. That doesn’t mean your prayers and caring aren’t needed. So again, if this writing touches you, feel free to pass it on. Perhaps in the telling its heart song will help ease the way a little.
LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD
©Aliana Alani 2011
LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD – AOTEAROA – Where stories linger like slender strings of tiny ocean pearls within your billowy sleeves of cloudlike memory. Where sky and sea walk hand in hand and in their mirage-like mist worlds both old and new appear to hover, and on their very edges ethereal doors stand ready to be entered, to share gifts perhaps waiting to be given. Is it but a dream to feel this way? And yet somehow, I think not.
Kia Ora, you say.
Aloha, I answer. For that is what I know in my heart.
Heart – the door you offer, at least to me – the chance to enter a land of ancient openness and be at peace, to walk with ease again along the corridors of time. As if a jewel had been here patiently waiting to be retrieved and lived anew. Strange to find you now, for I have landed on your shores when the earth is rumbling mightily and the ring of shifting sands and olden fissures is making itself known. Breaking through the seeming solidness of life and coughing up its innards for the entire world to see.
Kia Kaha, you say, for you have been through this before and know no fear.
Is that the opportunity, when all else falls away, to know no fear? To know that life always begins anew, that if we open our hearts and trust the birth, it can perhaps be even better than before, that we are strong in spirit no matter what?
I am touched by the hearts of people on this land of yours, Oh Long White Cloud. Touched by their generosity and kindness in the midst of devastation – their willingness to reach out and help another. It is the humaneness within humanity, is it not – to offer aid without question or condition? Too often we forget this as we stride our world of ever-increasing gadgets and sound bites. Your people are helping us to remember.
Ke Aloha Aotearoa, your beauty is astounding. Gods have walked upon your earth and fished in your waters. Songs have been sung in your honour and winds have dashed your shores. Mountains high and long have risen dressed in snowy garments. And films have told stories of Middle Earths and Hobbit kingdoms. You are part of a realm we now call, The Pacific. But somehow you are part of something else as well. It lives within the very fabric of your air, and hence within the fabric of your people. Amongst all else, it is a strength of heart and the never-ending ability to dare to weave new story into life, no matter what. A wondrous gift this is for the world to see and feel. Thank you for bringing it to our table.
Kia Kaha, Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud. Kia Kaha New Zealand.
You are loved.