Monday, June 20, 2011

The Pacific

An experience of ‘being with’ the ocean occurred while I was in the Pacific Island Group that we know as the Solomon Islands. I had felt for some time a growing sense of the connection that the native Islanders seemed to have with this great expanse of water. Out in the open sea, while in canoes and being taken between islands, the Islanders, would navigate the waters, winds, currents with an obvious and deep respect for the power of these elements.

When travelling in a canoe one day between the islands we were caught in a storm, which seriously unsettled a couple of visitors. Seeing the distress in one of us, a young Island woman began to sing. The tune carried the sense of waves rolling rhythmically. This served to distract us, to calm the escalating panic and to allow the one responsible for reading the elements, to remain focussed. We soon calmed down enough to see what was really happening … our ‘distraction’ had served to ‘connect’ us! We were then able to see that the young man responsible for our safe crossing seemed to have such a deep sense of connection that we found ourselves implicitly trusting him. He seemed to use all of his senses and more. He seemed to be at one with the ocean and the storm. I was in awe.

Later I was to see how the children grow with a feeling for the ocean and its movement.

On this day, I was talking with some of the women about community development issues, while sitting under trees where the water inside the reef lapped the edge of the land. There were rocks that showed above the water, which was less than a metre deep. A child size canoe was positioned in the water within a few metres of the women. In the c
anoe a child of maybe six months lay sleeping, unnoticed by me until she woke. This little one was experiencing the movement of the water as she slept and played. Her body, by being in the water this way, was able to experience and learn the subtle movements of the water, on the leeward side of the island, inside the reef.

Only last year I read the Wade Davis Massey Lectures ‘The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World’ and find that he has not only noticed Islanders who have the ability I witnessed but more, he has taken the time to study and write about it.

Although I am not in a position to agree or otherwise with all that he has written I do know that in essence we agree. There is much that we in our ‘modern’ world can learn, from the ‘knowing’ of ancient custodians of the lands and waters of the Earth.