This I Believe

Mary Tuti - Waimanalo, Hawaii
Entered on June 4, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: death, legacy

I’m a born-again Hawaiian. After spending most of my adult life living on the continent, I returned home to rediscover my Hawaiian cultural roots. Aloha is the seminal Hawaiian value. From aloha comes kuleana, roughly translated as responsibility. Nine years ago, aloha and kuleana compelled me to devote myself to taking care of my aging father.

Mom and Dad were married for over fifty years, and her death devastated him. Friends and family thought I was heroic when I put my life on hold to live with him, to fill the void left by Mom’s passing. It wasn’t a burden.

Dad survived Mom by six years. At the hospital on his last day, I was sitting quietly beside him, watching him sleep. His breathing was shallow and intermittent. He suddenly opened his eyes and looked deep into mine then slowly closed them to the world. Where did he go? Dad was with me and then he was gone. That moment haunts me to this day.

Being on the edge of life and death with my father led me to a discovery. In a waking dream not long ago, I had a clear image of Dad’s life force. It was and still is a part of a larger force of nature. It’s as real as gravity, electromagnetism and quantum physics. Within days of my discovery, I was surprised to hear my thoughts eloquently articulated by cosmologist George Ellis. On a recent broadcast of Speaking of Faith, he exclaimed that scientists haven’t a clue how the laws of physics and mathematics are embedded in the universe but these laws do exist. They aren’t invented by physicists and mathematicians. In the same way, a force he calls kenotic ethics is embedded in the universe and it is discovered, not invented, by people.

Eureka! That’s what drives my life choices. I don’t subscribe to a particular religion. I’ll let others debate the existence of God. But I do believe that there is force of consciousness embedded in the universe and it is there for anyone to discover. I continually discover this force in my interactions with family and friends, at work and at play. Humans use a multitude of words to describe this force: kenotic ethics, God, spirit, Allah, Tao, consciousness, and aloha. In my younger days I rebelled against the dogma of religion. Today, I see that, in amazingly creative ways, religions are conduits to this universal force.

After witnessing the force of the universe leave my father’s body, I realize that I’m not interested in what happens in the after-life. I don’t know if he’s in paradise, or if he awaits the judgment day in some undefined limbo, or if he has reincarnated into another body.

Dad passed away at peace with the world at the age of 90. I know the force of his being has shaped my life in a good way and I know that force continues to live on in me.