When I was asked a few weeks ago, by a teacher who found me on facebook, to make a kapa…i had no idea that today i would be sitting in the front row of a high school auditorium listening to the Dalai Lama speak. It all seems so random and yet as i have learned in my life…nothing is random.
When I was told that the kapa would be a gift for His Holiness, my first thought was wow, thats kind of crazy… He is an important world figure…imagine making a kapa for someone like that! The teacher who was ordering the kapa also mentioned, “Oh, and do you think you can say a few words about the meaning of the kapa also.”
Huh! make a kapa for AND tell the Dalai Lama what it means…. sure, I can do that! I suggested we make him a scarf, even though I dont think Hawaiians had kapa scarves. In Tibet they are called Kharta. I also suggested we make it yellow using the tumeric or olena root. In old Hawaii it was used medicinally, as well as a spiritual cleansing or clearing agent. I also believe that Hawaiian healers wouldve worn kapa that was dyed in this yellow. In that I consider the Dalai Lama to be a healer also, this was appropriate. And as the news feeds picked up, I thought it would match his wardrobe best as well, although we do have a full color palette to choose from.
The teacher Mr. Souza, wanted a print on the kapa too, and it took me a few days to think about that, to decide on something and what it would mean. I settled on using the red clay we call alae`a, and a print that represents the mountains, including the mountain ranges of the island of O`ahu and the mountains of the Himalayas. To me it also represents the solidity and serenity of the Dalai Lama. There is a watermark design beaten into the kapa that represents the ocean, which is part of the Dalai Lama’s true name.
Before the day of the event i mulled over what I would do about a one hour drive from one side of the island to another at the height of early morning rush hour traffic. FORTUNATELY some of my cousins lived very close to the school so I called and was able to go over and spend a very pleasant evening with some dear family. And then I was able to have a great sleep, wake up at a normal time and have a 7 minute drive up the hill to Kailua High School. Awesome.
At the school, after the bomb-sniffing dogs cleared the area, I got in and got the kapa to prepare it for the young man who would present it. As people found out I was ‘the kapa maker’ I was treated like a dignitary myself! something I always find so interesting. Really, I just pound tree bark. After the Dalai Lama arrived, the program began. At the end of the performance by the Hawaiian studies youth, I was given a few moments to direct my comments to His Holiness and tell him about his kapa, how meaningful it was to be able to make it, and how meaningful to have him here teaching our young people.
I really dont have words to express how amazing it was to sit in the front row and be able to see a kapa that I made, from a tree that I grew, wrapped around one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the world. i just smiled and smiled. He wore it during his whole talk and even when it slipped off, he just threw the end back over his shoulder and carried on.
I hope the high school students appreciated this rare opportunity they had today to have such a person all to themselves today. He truly loves the young people and puts alot of faith in them to overcome, as one of the questioning students asked, the prejudices and bias they may have inherited from previous generations, that may prevent them from creating a future peaceful society.
As for me, what started out as just another kapa order, became an experience that I will remember always. An unforgettable experience. Big thank you to Ku Souza and Kailua High school, Eddie and Georgette Gomes, and Bailey for helping Grandma paint this special kapa.
Aloha from the Beach!