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The Importance of Mahalo

January 27, 2017

In all the years I’ve been in Hawaii, I’ve never missed a sunset.

My first trip to Hawaii I met Dean. Every evening, he brings his conch shell down to the ocean. Rain or shine, when the sun touches the horizon, he plays the conch, sending a deep trumpet into the sky and sea. It is a daily event and over the years I’ve watched Dean add friends and shells to his conch ensemble. I think the ritual means something different to everyone there but for me, the blowing of the conch () is an expression of Mahalo.

Directly translated, Mahalo means thank you, but the traditional Hawaiian meaning runs deeper than that. Mahalo is a blessing of gratitude and appreciation for all that is. The native Hawaiians did this pule (prayer) on special occasions, to commemorate voyages and at the closing of days to honour Kala (the sun) for nourishing and giving life to the planet.

Each day we come together for the blowing of the conch, I am reminded to be grateful for the presence of Hawaii in my life. I marvel at the gathering of strangers to appreciate the beauty of the sunset at the end of the day (only in paradise!). I stand in awe of Dean’s commitment (he’s never skipped a day and he lives there all year!) and I hope that I too, can be as steadfast in my honouring of life on this Earth. It is a favourite ritual of mine and a practice I have tried to bring home.

In the absence of a sunset, on my bedside table lays a shell, a gentle reminder to reach for that feeling of appreciation each day.

Mahalo for opening your heart and sharing my journey with me.

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