In the wake of the recent political storm that raged over the state legislature’s approval of same-gender marriage, a friend forwarded an email she received from a friend, Adam Keawe Kinau Manalo Camp. I have never met Keawe but was so struck by what he wrote that I’m compelled to share it with you as something that hopefully will give you pause for thought and perhaps turn a light on in your heart.
With this marriage equity debate, I have heard people make rather strong comments (opposing same sex marriage) and invoking the name of the Queen (Lili‘uokalani). My grandmother, Sarah Kamakalili‘uokalani, was born in 1900 and was given her middle name by the Queen herself. Her mother, Lilian Kinimaka, was one of the last companions and ladies in waiting of Queen Kapi‘olani. She also served as lady in waiting for Princesses Ruth and Likelike. Her husband had been one of the private secretaries of Princesses Ruth Ke‘elikolani and Miriam Likelike when both were appointed governors of Hawai‘i island. So my family knew a thing or two about the members of the Royal Family. According to my grandmother, there was a time when some Christians did not want Buddhist priests to come to Hawai‘i and were protesting and calling Buddhists “idol worshipers”, “hana pagana (pagans)”, and other ugly names. They wanted Queen Lili‘uokalani to endorse their position. So they went to seek an audience with Queen Lili‘uokalani at Washington Place. According to my grandmother, the Queen smoked her cigar and then remarked to them “God is in the flowers”. Some of the people looked bewildered. Then the Queen explained that God loved gardens and made so many different types of flowers, of so many colors and of various fragrances—yet they were all flowers and beautiful in their own vibrant splendor. Gardens are beautiful exactly because of that diversity of flowers. Whether one practices Buddhism or Christianity or is of one race or another, they are still flowers in God’s garden, radiant in their different varieties and shades of hue. O Ke Akua i na pua. God is in the flowers. I do not believe that someone as enlightened as the Queen, who saw the beauty of God within the brilliant variety of flowers in nature and saw humanity as a garden of God, would condemn people who simply want their love to be recognized. They are flowers of God too. I believe that if the Queen were alive today and people came to ask her for her advice regarding this issue, she would say the same thing—God is in the flowers.
To those of you who may take exception to this message, I apologize. It’s not my intent to judge anyone’s belief system whatever it may be. My message is that we all live on the same planet and somehow, as the world shrinks, and belief systems crash head-on into each other, loaded with the raging passion of deeply held moral convictions, we must find a way to navigate this garden in which we are all planted by first seeing the beauty of the garden in its wholeness, keep the dark side of our humanity in check, and reach out to each other on those things about life on which we agree. If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself as we evolve to higher levels of our human existence. Welcome to the garden. May you walk with God and let the light in your heart be turned on for all living things.