Jennifer Bonadio

The island of Maui is my home, and where there has been devastating wildfires and catastrophic loss of life this month. The grief and shock are profound, and it will be a long recovery.* In the wake of that disaster there has been such an overwhelming and moving outpouring of support and Aloha from within the community and from beyond our shores. People here on the ground came out immediately, and continue to do so, to meet the disaster needs of the affected families head on, as a community. So beautiful is the hope and love upwelling in the hearts of people, giving rise to the strength and courage needed amidst such a tragedy. I am humbled and forever changed by it.

What has happened here on my home island is something the whole planet is facing. The consequences of climate change loom over our lives and communities right now – it has arrived. But what if we don’t have to wait for disaster to strike to come together as people. Rather than be paralyzed by fear and denial, let’s turn to the life-force of hope at the center of our own beings, and act from there now, instead of leaving it in hands of government authority and trusting that will be enough. Let’s prepare by drawing closer to each other in our communities to take practical action. If we occupy hope, rather than despair and cynicism, I believe that we can collectively sow the seeds of a future where people don’t simply survive but thrive in the spirit of unity.

But Hope is more than envisioning positive or desired outcomes – it is an experience of being held in grace by something greater. It is relational, connecting us all to a greater field of belonging. It isn’t an emotion, it is more felt, and sensed and known, a driving force that arises from life itself, and from joining with others. An illusory future doesn’t create hope. Like love, hope acts, it is like yeast in the dough of our material existence that causes it to rise. It may not change circumstances right away, but it is felt, and it can both empower and restore us. In the absence of hope, we become isolated in our quiet despair.

Together, we can tap the wellspring of our love and hope and go forward, even if we do not always see the way ahead clearly. We were made for these times. Let us hold hope and love in our hearts to seed the ground of our future and guide our thoughts and actions so a way through and a new vision of humanity can arise.

*There are many ways to support Maui disaster relief, and if you are moved to donate, one way I trust is the Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund.

Thank you.