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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Returned...


She has Returned...
As I Seek my Refuge...
In Her Fragile Heart...
And my only Salvation...
In Her Soft Sacred...
Eternally Wanting Kiss...

Ke Ao...


I found this old photo from about twenty-years ago. While working at the Burial Sites Program, my co-worker, Kana'i Kapeliela, and I emerged from investigating a lava tube in a large South Kona development. It was a little before 10:00pm at night when we finally made it out. We had started at the entrance about 5:00pm, after the construction site had shut down for the day, because the passages would branch off and split up and lead into all directions.

You could always see roof-fall inside of the tubes where potions of the ceiling fell down inside. We never wanted to be unknowingly crawling under a roadway with heavy trucks driving directly above us, as you could easily be killed. So we began our investigations at night, spending sometimes four to five hours crawling through just one tube system to confirm the existence or absence of cultural remains, especially ancestral Native Hawaiian human skeletal remains.

We hadn't extensively investigated and explored lava tubes to this extent before being involved in a lawsuit over identification, protection and disposition of the many ancestral burial sites on the project area. The presiding Judge in the case, had asked our Division archaeologist, on the witness stand, who from our regulatory agency goes into the lava tubes to verify the presence or absence of remains. 

The archaeologist told the truth and said nobody from the State. The contract archaeologist was the one who checked and verified the lava tubes that were discovered during construction activities, when an opening would collapse in, and reveal the once hidden lava tubes.

The Judge and the courtroom observers were all shocked, and rightfully so. The State was ordered to independently investigate and explore the breached lava tubes independently of the developers contractors and consultants. 

Burial staff were not trained as archaeologists, but we volunteered to assist in verifying, especially when our archaeologist at the time was suffering from chronic ailments and quickly became nauseous when entering the tubes with us. 

His health was frail at the time and we didn't want to have him die, so we volunteered. Seemingly, for once, nobody in the office challenged our expertise or experience as being unqualified to conduct what was tantamount to archaeological survey, not being archaeologists. It would turn out to be brutal and dangerous work at times, little did we know.

Thus Kana'i and I found ourselves responsible for entering the property in the evening, to inspect breached lava tubes found during utility trenching or other Earth-moving activities of the day. 

Often when driving through the project during the day, conducting inspections, we would see lava tube entrances that had been breached and subsequently filled in and blocked with giant boulders. We would ask the workers and contract archaeologists, if anyone had gone into the tube to determine the extent of the tube and the presence or absence of cultural remains. 

The answers were usually the same. "Yes. So and so was the monitor at the time of the discovery, and they went in and said there wasn't any sign of cultural material." We would make notes of the location of the tube on the project map and determine which one we would investigate later that evening.

We were at a disadvantage when we retuned under cover of nightfall in the quiet, dark and eerily still construction site. We had to provide our own light, using flashlights and sometimes the headlights of our rental car.

Also, some of the breached tubes had their entrances blocked by massive boulders lifted with giant machinery that very same day. We had nothing to remove them. However, through prayer and observation, and the assistance of the ancestors, we learned that if we dug with our hands, below the boulders, through the dirt and removed the smallest of stones, eventually the boulders would shift and come tumbling out, as we quickly scurried away as not to get crushed or killed.

Sometimes we would spend an hour slowly digging with our gloved hands until enough boulders shifted and rolled allowing us an entrance point.

It was an important lesson, understanding how seemingly massive and immovable obstacles in Life, can often be shifted and removed, through the steady and careful identification and removal of the smallest of blockages, using Faith. I still ponder on the lessons even today. 

The next morning, the work crews would arrive and wonder how the massive boulders were all removed. Simply hand-digging. We said nothing however.

Some of the tubes which were supposedly investigated upon breach and discovery, were obviously not investigated, as we would crawl in, and find some knee and handprints, and drag marks, in the fine silt covering the bottom of the cave, for about ten-feet, then it would suddenly end, while the tube itself went on for a hundred yards, as we would ultimately find out, crawling inch-by-inch to its terminus. Untouched pristine silt.

Once inside of the tube, if there were multiple branches, we would volunteer to each take one and crawl to its terminus to save time. It was very dangerous however, to lose sight and sound, and the whereabouts of your partner for hours on end. We were alone. Just our rental car parked outside. No third safety person. If something happened to us, it would probably would take until the next morning for anyone to notice our vehicle, and then enter the tube to search for our bodies.

I was overweight and stressed out from the work itself. I could have easily had a heart-attack deep inside with no chance for help. We moved on Faith alone, protected only by our own Humility and assessing our own Hearts and the Love for the Ancestors.

Some tubes required you to crawl on your stomach, lifting yourself up by a few inches, and pulling yourself forward a foot, then laying down again, only to repeat the process. Like doing low push-ups, one at time, while you move forward. Some on dusty silty floors. Others on pahoehoe or a'a lava which tended to shred up your shirt and stomach. Other tubes would have areas where you could stand up and walk, and yet others, shot up with twenty foot ceilings like cathedrals. 

We also learned, from being inside of the tubes, that sometimes a tube would be breached, like under a roadway, but you would have no way of knowing it from the surface. The roads looked normal. However, when you went into the lava tube, you would eventually find a portion of the tube that was blocked completely from the collapse above. 

Whether the collapse fell and crushed burials, or whether the tube continued on the other side of the collapse, and held cultural materials, couldn't be determined without discover another entrance to that particular tube system.

We had tried using handheld radios, but quickly learned that they were effectively useless in the tubes as the useful range quickly went to zero in the twisting irregular passages. 

When we had to split up, we would often yell to each other, until the yells became muffled. Then finally, only vibrating murmurs, and then ultimately just dead silence. I would yell and listen for the faintest sound of a response. Nothing. 

Everything was pitch black, and we had to bring multiple sources of light because if your one flashlight stopped working, and hour to two deep into the cave, you were done. No way to crawl out without light, even in the brightest of Sunlight outside. Pitch black. 

We found passages blocked by roof-fall or filled in, which led to other potions of the tube, and often dozens of more yards, or another twisting and undulating hundred yards. More branches, more forks. Ledges high above us, fifteen feet or more, which led to new tubes, and drops and lower tubes below us from the once molten lava of akua Pele as it made it's way to Kanaloa's Domain, the Ocean.

We would often see cultural material, like kukui nuts, and the shells of small crabs, used for what we called "kupuna energy snacks." Faunal remains. Artifacts. Sometimes carrying poles used to carry the bodies into the furthest recesses of the cave. And yes, many human remains in some of the caves. 

It was important to know who was where, because the development activities above could collapse in portions of the tube. 

An attempt to plant a tree on a golf-course fairway in the middle of the trial, ending up puncturing a lava tube and when we investigated, the puncture debris had fallen right on top of a kupuna.

Sometimes I would be so exhausted, after crawling for hours on my stomach, sometimes inches at time, trying not to inhale the fine dust and disturbed silt, inches from my face, that I would turn over on my back, and turn off my light, and just lay there in the cold dark silent space. Trying to capture my breath.

It was like the tubes absorbed any possible sounds and it was quieter than you ever thought a silence could possibly be. Just listening to your own breathing, and your own Heart beating in the blood vessels in your ears. 

It was at those times, that I softly spoke to the ancestors around me. Explaining why we were there invading the refuge and sanctuary for the Souls. Understanding that the darkest of black, was the World of Pō. Illuminated and Balanced only by the Light of my Own Being. My Own Soul. In a place where the Veil between here and there, us and them, was already kapa thin. 

Other times, I would be trying to squeeze through a small opening, only to have my stomach get stuck halfway through the opening, and be wedged there, unable to move forward anymore or reverse back out. My bulging hernia didn't help in those situations, as I would have to wait until I could slowly and painfully shift my guts around, to finally get through and continue investigating.

Another time we entered and crawled through a tube, only to find that it led to a ledge and about a 10 foot drop to a lower cave where we had suspected there had been a unreported surface breach and collapse. 

The ledge we had to crawl upon seemed fragile, like it could give away under our individual weight and send us plummeting down below to possible injury or death. 

We took a chance, and I slowly crawled out onto the ledge on my stomach, while my partner held the flashlight to illuminate that portion of the cave. I inched ever so slowly, until I could hang onto the ledge with my upper body, and slowly slide my legs across the over the ledge and pointed them at the dark ground behind and below me. 

We had seen a large boulder looking piece of lava that seemed like I could possibly hang onto the ledge, and get my feet down to touch it, and then lower myself down. It looked about six feet down in my estimation, and I being six-feet, should able to extend my legs down backwards, and reach it to lower my whole body down. I erred, however, in my estimation of its distance. Almost fatally.

Unfortunately, as I crawled out, and attempted to position myself on the ledge to lower my legs down, I got to a point where I was hanging on the ledge by my torso, locked under my ribcage, while my legs were dangling and swinging blindly below, trying desperately to feel for any foothold, but nothing was there. I had misjudged my own height against the apparent height of the boulder.

I was stuck in that position, and my diaphragm was compressed on the ledge by my own body weight, and I was starting to hyperventilate out of fear, and soon was having trouble breathing.  I couldn't let myself down, nor pull myself back up, slowly suffocating and losing muscular strength.

My partner could see the desperation in my face and started to try and slowly crawl onto the ledge towards me. He saw my feet were too far from the rock below. I desperately told him not to because our combined weight would surely snap the ledge and we would both plummet to injury or death, using up what breath I had left in yelling that out.

I will never forget that moment. Stuck there, suffocating, thinking I was going to pass out, and fall down and fall backward and break my leg, or hit my head on the many lava boulders, and that could effectively be the end of my life. 

I thought about my family, my wife, my two-year old and my newborn. Life's over. For what? Trying to save the bones of my ancestors. I actually went numb and started to pass out, still stuck on the ledge, as the edge dug into my stomach and chest. There was no where to go. Up or down. I was stuck and immovable. 

All I could think of was "help me..." to anyone who was listening. Anyone. Screaming only in my quickly fading mind resigning itself to unconsciousness and joining the Ancestors prematurely.

Then I don't really have an explanation for what happened next. As my legs were flailing around beneath me in the dark, I suddenly felt rock touch my the bottom of my right foot. It was impossible. 

Either my leg somehow grew longer, or the rock I felt moved up to meet my foot. It hadn't been close enough for me to touch as my partner watched in horror, wanting to crawl out to me to try and pull me up.

But it was somehow miraculously and mysteriously there. 

I extended my foot down and slowly, using what little strength I had, to lift myself up inches, to get my locked ribcage off of the ledge, the only thing that had kept me hanging there, and slowly lowered my other foot down, feeling the same rock below me, until I could lower my whole body down and fall to the tube floor. 

It took me awhile to catch my breath and allow my Heart to stop pounding in my chest.

My partner then crawled back out of the tube and found a metal ladder in a manhole that was being installed and carried, slid and dragged it, inch-by-inch, back into the tube and we set it up and secured it, so he could safely climb down and more importantly, we both could climb back up and out when we were finished, provided we didn't discover any other entrances or exits in that tube system, during our exploration.

Sure enough, we didn't go very far before we discovered a massive collapse and breach of the tube from above, where a roadway was in the project area. It had collapsed in, and it had been filled in with rubble. 

We had no idea what lay on the other side of the rubble, or what may lie beneath. However, it confirmed our suspicions of unreported breaches.

There are many more stories best saved for another day and time of reflection. 

I was always amazed at how difficult it was to traverse many of these lava tubes. Even though we had modern protective gear, helmets, kneepads, respirator masks, gloves, and flashlights, we would often emerge beat up and bruised, and even bloody at times. The amount of blood that pours out of scalp wounds is always alarming for the shocked observer. 

Yet, you could crawl for hours, only to find an ancestor, lovingly placed in the furthest reaches of the cave, hundreds of yards, carried by someone who Loved them, without the benefit of our modern day protective gear.

A kukui nut oil lamp or torch. A carrying pole. Some crab snacks. A malo. And not much else. It made us truly understand the tremendous effort and personal sacrifice our ancestor made to ensure that a loved and revered family member would rest undisturbed for Eternity.

Yet, the Human's insatiable appetite to build and develop the land to accommodate more and more of their consumerism and materialistic desires destroys and disrupts the true Spiritual Cycles that give All of Us Life.

And there are truly no words to express my gratitude, to the kupuna in that cave that night, and to the mysterious Rock that helped Save my Life.

That simply delivered a Father and Husband back home to his family. Not in a casket. But Alive...

Important Memorable Experiences, Profound Lessons, and the continued Refinement of my Soul on this Shared Human Journey. 

Thank you. Have Faith. With Humility and Gratitude. Learn to Trust. Believe in Love... 

Love you All...

Be Safe and Well out there...

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Beauty...


I have Borne...
Witness...
To Such...
Breathtaking Beauty...
In this Humbling Life...

Monday, April 6, 2020

Ka Hali'a Aloha...

















I found these photographs that my Father had taken years ago in Washington, D.C. at a Hawaiian Festival. Posting them in case someone recognizes themselves or a loved one and wants to download, save, print or otherwise preserve a memory that would otherwise be buried in a cardboard box until oblivion. Shared with Love...

Healing...


As Mother Earth...
Herself Heals...
Her Endless Love...
And Glorious Light...
Shall Permeate...
Every Dark Corner...
And Heal Us All...

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Messages...


Our Ancestors had a cultural practice that involved communication and consult with the Spirit World. Mary Kawena Pukui wrote about her experiences, and this documented practice, in Kā'ū on Hawai'i Island. Her mo'opuna, La'akea, also wrote about it in an article in more recent times. It was the practice of being a Medium or Oracle.

A chosen family member would become the Haka upon which an ancestral Spirit would "noho" or "perch" upon their shoulders and speak through them. An ancestor on the Otherside of the Veil could communicate with the living 'ohana, sharing such advice such as an approaching famine, and instructing the 'ohana to grow extra 'uala, or sweet potatoes. It was the guidance of Love that never died with the physical body.

Not only could one serve as a channel or voice for ancestral family members, but some could also communicate with Divine Beings beyond our Planet and World, but in our Shared Universe, sometimes beyond our Human understanding and comprehension.

These practices continue to this day. I have been humbled to my core to bear witness to these teachings. Beautiful selfless Gifted Friends are sharing messages with all who will hear. They reaffirm my own experiences, and softly and gently fill in voids in my understandings of my own Journey and Purpose here.

There are also teachers right here on Earth. Not always of human form, but of Nature. Plants. Animals. Rocks. Flowing Water. Winds. The Elementals. And of course, Mother Earth, herself. Her Beautiful Life-Sustaining Precious Tender Self.

The other morning, during my shower, I was staring out my little window towards Diamond Head, overlooking the quiet streets. I entered my Prayer and was lost in thought, as flowing words filled with Humility and Gratitude, streamed forth in soft undertones, over the city.

Suddenly, a solitary pair of Manu o Kū, or White Fairy Terns, caught my eye. I noticed that where I usually would see anywhere from on average six to upwards of twenty of these white birds soaring in and around their nesting trees, during my morning shower, it was eerily quiet but for these two.

I paused my pious utterances.

I then noticed that the streets also seemed unusually empty. Whereas I would see a few cars here and there driving in my expansive view, from almost thirty-stories up, of the roads, apartments, houses and businesses towards Diamond Head, during these "Shelter in Place" times, I didn't notice any vehicles driving, nor any pedestrians walking around either in their usual sojourns. 

It was eerily still and abnormally quiet.

I watched the two love birds, soaring and swooping, way up into the sky, and then dive-bombing back down, hundreds of feet, always in unison. A few feet apart at the most and seemingly at times, touching briefly.

I was mesmerized and my prayer stopped for the time being, as I absorbed these two Beautiful creatures. It seemed that all Life below, Human life, was hunkered down and sequestered inside homes and apartments, some in obedience, others out of Fear. Society had momentarily stopped. Yet, these two Beautiful Birds, soared through the air with such Freedom. With such Grace. With such Dignity. With such Love. Seemingly without a care in the World...

After about a minute or two, enraptured by their Beauty and Grace, and lost in thought, they disappeared from sight around the corner of my building and I snapped out of my daze. I regained my thoughts and composure, and apologized for the break in my Prayer and continued on where I had left off, as the warm shower water continued covering my back.

No sooner had I finished my prayer, a few minutes later, I was startled to see the two birds emerge suddenly from around the corner of my building, back into my view, and I watched them continue their sky dance, until they both plummeted out of sight, only to emerge suddenly right in front of me and my little portal to the outside World.

They rose together with great speed, and only about fifteen-feet in front of me, as they both stalled in the air, with their wings outstretched and directed towards each other. Like an aerial embrace, that didn't touch. It was like slow motion, as they slowly rose, floating and then became almost completely still, suspended for a brief moment, in what seemed like an Eternity. 

Then just as quickly as they appeared, they both dropped in unison and soared off towards the distant tree canopy lining Kalākaua Avenue, disappearing into the tree tops.

My first thought, as my Heart pounded, was that I had just missed the most Beautiful photographic capture ever. The way the two birds were suspended momentarily, wings outstretched towards each other, almost embracing, but not touching, like a social distancing hug, and backlit by the rising mid-morning Sun, and with Diamond Head in the background, would have made the most incredible photograph ever. 

I lamented quickly how I didn't have my camera anywhere near me to have had any remote chance of capturing the incredible and sublime vision that presented itself right in front of me. Nor could I have imagined sitting at my little window for hours waiting for such a capture. The photo with this post is from another day and time years ago and is only to help invoke in the Mind's Eye a fraction of the Beauty that I was humbled to witness.

Then without warning, the tears came. Flooded and poured down. I was surprised at the reaction and the Presence of Spirit. It was a guttural visceral reaction, welled up from deep within, from a distant past. Tears that delivered recognition, and a Healing at the same time.

Then I began to process what I had just witnessed. It was Divine. It was a Lesson. It was Guidance. It was Love...

The Beautiful Manu o Kū. So Resilient. So Delicately Powerful. Their residential presence on O'ahu is believed to have started in the sixties with one breeding pair at Koko Head, which has now grown to several thousand birds on O'ahu. Mostly in the crowded urban setting.

Not only do they survive. They thrive. They are such loving, devoted and caring parents to their young and to each other. Mother and Father relentlessly flying great distances to bring back sustenance for their babies. Watching protectively. Sheltering in wind and storms. Bringing forth Beautiful Life. Sometimes even two or more chicks in a given year.

I would see solitary birds soaring to and from the ocean. Sometimes two birds soaring about. Sometime three together. Even four at times. Dedicated 'ohana. Caring for each other. 

Spending the limited time in this short Ephemeral Life with Love, and in Love...

It resonated so deeply, that it immediately brought me to unexpected tears as those images and lessons flashed before me, visions that quickly expanded my Heart. All from simply witnessing their suspended wing embrace.

It resonated with what gifted friends and others have been sharing too. 

This is a time-out for Humanity. It took one of the smallest of Life forms to bring Countries, Governments, Industries, Economies, Militaries, and all the modern Societal constructs that relentlessly move forward, in the artificial value of money and relentlessly driven by competition and ego, to a time-out.

We are destroying our only Home in the Universe. Mother Earth. 

She is finally given a chance to Heal. All Life is given a chance. Not just ego-centric Humans. 

The Messages from Gifted Friends. This is a time for self-reflection. What do we Truly value in this short physical Life...and what lessons and experiences will we carry forward into Eternity... The Fate of Humanity Depends upon it...

If you had a minute to live. As some sadly do. What would you do? What would you say? To whom? What would you regret? What would you change if you could turn back the clock of time? Back at least one minute?

What if you were given a day to Live. As some are. What would you do?

A week? A month? A year? Five years? Twenty?

We should all live each day like it may be our last. For some, it sadly will be.

The message from the Manu o Kū...

Live Life to the Fullest Each Day. Make each Beautiful Moment count. Soar to the highest Highs, with your Spirit, powered by Love. Care for family. Care for strangers. Care for each other...

There is no Separation. We are all One People. Humanity.

In my Heart I know this is True, for my tears often flow and mix with a seeming stranger on the other side of the World...

We are all one Spirit. All Life.

We have forgotten our Relationship with Precious Mother Earth...
We have forgotten our Relationship with Each Other. 
And we have forgotten our Relationship with Ourselves...
We have simply Forgotten who we Are...

To survive and emerge from this seeming Nightmare, we must simply Remember...

Who We All Are...

With Love, Humility and Gratitude...

Mālama kekahi i kekahi...
Kāko'o kekahi i kekahi...
Aloha kekahi i kekahi...

Care for, Help and Love One Another...

Eternity is Forever...

A Most Beautiful Joyous Soul-Fulfilling Forever...

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Presence...




Over the past two days, when I walk into a room, it seems like my Spirit Guides are making sure I know they are Present, Observing, Guiding and Protecting...

Humbly Grateful for this Magical Life...

Pony Ride...


My Sweet Beloved 1966 Ford Mustang. Original Ford Eggshell White. Jet Black interior. I swapped the hubcaps for a set of 1965 Mustang spinner caps. When polished up, cruising down Kalākaua Avenue, the car shimmered...

People complimented and commented from adjacent cars and from the sidewalks as I turned corners....

I shipped her to Hawai'i Island and here I am taking my Mother for a ride around the Chain of Craters Road at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park during a break from Law School...

What a Beautiful Car...
What a Beautiful Memory...

Friday, April 3, 2020

Welo...


The Wild Spanish Barbed Mustangs of Waipi'o Valley...

Ka Hali'a Aloha...


Remembering...
Love...
At Honokahua...

Remembering...


Self-Portrait...
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa..
1987

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Kū...


To Rule or Reign...

Welo...



Here is my Paternal Grandfather and my namesake, Elliott R Markell, looking like he could command the Calvary Unit of a Roman Legion invading Persia.

Here I am trying desperately to not fall off my tethered pony in my unsuccessful attempt at delivering junk mail.

Like Grandfather, Like Grandson...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ke Ao...


The Awakening...

Distancing...


We had just boarded an airplane in Okinawa or Japan. My father was notorious for making me go stand by women before taking my photo even though I was shy and often embarrassed. As you can see, this stewardess is very disinterested. This would be just one of many experiences with female rejection and disinterest.

Thus I remain an OG, an Original Gangster, of Social Distancing...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Absenteeism...


I think this was my last year in Law School. I don't know what I was thinking. I spent more time at the beach then in class. When we were graduating, I was awarded  the "Mr. Invisible" Certificate at our Hoss, or as it is more commonly known, Horse Elections...

Mother and Grandmother...


This is probably the earliest photo of my Beloved Mother I have ever seen. Here she is with my Beautiful Grandmother on Kaua'i. Shortly after this, my Mother's Father, my Grandfather, would drown in Moloa'a Bay and be pulled ashore, by my Grandmother and others, only to die on the beach, while my four-year old Mother watched in horror...

Treasure each person, each day, each moment in this short Ephemeral Life...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Assessment...


When someone sneezes in the grocery store bakery section...

Kūlia i kō Aloha...


Exert your Love...

Welo...


Social Distancing Since 1893...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

OG...


Social Distancing since 3 years old. Like an OG...

Kia'i...


When I find my Life precarious again due to COVID-19 and underlying health issues, I take so much comfort in knowing that my Beautiful sister in Heaven, Nalani, is still an Angelic Guardian for me. I Love and miss her so very much. 

We both can't wait to see, and embrace, each other again. She says, however, that she can wait for many, many more years, despite her yearnings, so be Well and take my time...

Friday, March 27, 2020

Empathy...


Apparently, even our laundry is distressed at having to stay inside the house all day and night...

Beckoning Bacon...


I opened my refrigerator yesterday to take out yet more bacon to cook for the family. I immediately saw this face on the bacon package, staring off into the distance, somewhat perturbed, and giving disapproving looks and attitude.

I said, "Take it easy there. I know we have been eating too much bacon lately but as you are aware, we are under an Emergency Proclamation..."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Ola...


Life...