A Ho‘ohana of Faith and Family

I think of our December Ho‘ohana as a continuation, therefore a preface first. This was from November 1st:

It is enormously delicious to have November arrive again and welcome my free fall back into what I think of as the normal rhythm of the year … in my perfect world the year actually ends in October. (Remember Sweet Closure?)

November and December are these extra months where you do your very best to just give in to the holidays and not fight them. You finish those dastardly budgets and forecasts, and you refuse to take on any new projects until January. You let it be okay that there might be a grand design to life which trumps just about everything else. Said another way, you don’t buck the system — nature’s system as it’s been through the ages. You live it fully and enjoy the good in it.

Therefore, if November has Thanksgiving as its focal point, we are simply meant to give thanks, and that is what we should do by living in thankfulness. We’ll feel so much better if we do. To live with an attitude of gratitude is a true blessing. Then, if December has Christmas as its focal point, what better time for faith and for family? ” It may sound incredibly simple; too simple. Well, at this time of year, simple is beautiful. Simple is just right. Simple may be perfect.

And now, December has arrived in all its holiday splendor. As promised thirty days ago, it is time for our Ho‘ohana of Faith and Family.

The two words do sound naturally harmonious together, yet I don’t put faith and family in the same phrase because of their cadence; their pleasing sound is just a happy coincidence. I’ve thought of the two words as connected for as long as I can remember.

I was raised Roman Catholic. In our family we’d all say that my dad was “right up there with the Pope” tongue in cheek, but it was true that he impressed upon all of us a reverence for our Christian faith, and for the hope and promise our reverence would eventually deliver to us.

Chtree_3Faith, Hope, and Love are regarded as “theological virtues” in traditional Christian doctrine, and to be sure we wouldn’t question his evangelical fervor as “just how dad feels,” our parents sent me and my siblings to Catholic school to learn our lessons in the basic morality of those virtues. Our deeply ingrained faith was inseparably connected to the first family of Adam and Eve, and in this holiday season to the family of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus.

As I got older, I realized you needn’t be Christian to recognize the potent effect faith has in the human experience. Faith is a source of discipline, strength and meaning in the lives of the faithful of any major creed, religious or otherwise, and growing up in the melting pot of cultures that was twentieth century Hawaii, the embrace of faith in all its religious variety was the most natural thing in the world for us, a part of our Lōkahi; the unity and harmony of our community.

Faith shapes our values and our virtues, and I’ve come to believe that my dad was right about our need to have reverence for something which will help us be better people. It felt good to have faith and trust in a higher power. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve just shed the God-fearing part of the lecture, and today I’m most accurately described as religiously uncommitted I suppose. I believe in God, and certainly in our spiritual capacity, and I have my faith, perhaps stronger than it’s ever been. I still consider myself a Christian, however I’m no longer a practicing Roman Catholic.

Sealing the deal for me in the faith and family connection was becoming a mother. It was impossible to even think of having children without a profound faith in the future, and that the future would be worthy of them. To be a parent one must have faith in the rest of humanity.

Responsibility is one of my strongest personal values, and without faith I could not have children who in all likelihood would long outlive me, and one day have children of their own. I had to have exceptional faith in our world and in the rest of mankind helping shape that world well outside the boundaries of my own maternal reach, ambitious and zealous as it may be.

I have some trouble with the concept of fate, but I do believe in having faith as something that empowers us to create our own destiny. There is faith in the divine and the spiritual, faith in others and in self, faith that good will always defeat evil — I choose to believe in every variety and aspect of it, and family is what makes the notion of having faith at all so compelling.

So what is our Ho‘ohana for the month? How will we live and work with purpose and full intention? Our Ho‘ohana is simply to celebrate that we have both faith and family. To reflect upon their worth in our lives, and to accept our own stewardship of them.

—Faith requires no proof. In their love for you and faith in you, neither does your family.

—Faith believes that all things can be beautiful. Your family believes there is beauty in you.

—Faith can comfort us and heal us. So can our family. Both faith and family are steadfast and unwavering.

—We don’t find faith all by ourselves, or learn about it on our own. We don’t need to, for we have family.

—Faith teaches us to trust and to believe, and within family we find our greatest teachers.

—Faith requires a love and respect for all living things. In family love is our earliest memory, respect our constant one.

—Of all the virtues, faith best helps us bear uncertainty. Family ensures we are never alone facing our uncertainty.

—Our understanding of our world may never be complete. Faith and family help us fill in the gaps or be okay with them.

Christmasnorthpolemama120105As adults, we can be fond of saying that Christmas is for children, and that the magic of the season is best seen through the eyes of a child. I believe that a ho‘ohana of faith and family in this season can be the magic and wonder that we adults can experience. I have faith in our capacity for aloha and for joy in both our work and our play, in our present and in our future.

“Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.”

Always liked that song.

Ho‘ohana with me. I wish for you and your family, a joyful and triumphant December.


Photos found on Flikr.

Postscript: If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first of each month to our email subscribers. Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month. The best way to sort out the Ho‘ohana „¢ posts from the others, is to click on the Talking Story category link named Monthly Ho‘ohana: they’ll appear from newest to oldest. 

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  1. says

    Faith and family… as I read the list, I felt a momentary twinge of regret and sadness.
    Although I had a family (parents, grandparents and the like)I didn’t have a family with whom, or from whom I learned any of those lessons (it’s hard to get from narcissists). That’s what made me feel sad, because I think all children deserve to have the family that you conjure up in your post, Rosa.
    But I rejoice, at this time of year and all others, that I found and learned about faith on my own, and with/from other important people who have been in my life over the years.
    And now, at 42, I’m delighted beyond measure to have a chosen family to love and be loved by, and to have faith in and offer my own faithfulness to. If life is a journey, I’m probably living the best part, right now. :)
    Here’s to faith and love, whether it comes from expected, or entirely unplanned sources!

  2. says

    Stacy, in reading what you have written here, my first thought is about ‘ohana, the Hawaiian value associated with family, for it defines a “human circle of aloha” which has very little (if anything) to do with birthright or family by blood.
    In an ‘ohana we have the right, privilege, and honor of choosing those we consider family; we invite them to be part of our aloha circle, and we share who we are completely. It seems to me that is what you have done.
    As you do, I wish a perfect upbringing for every child, however parenting is one of the most intensive and difficult endeavors known, and sometimes it can seem that circumstance conspires against one’s very best efforts. It is very understandable that perfection is elusive. So we strive for love and for mālama (care and protection) instead, and we do the best that we can.
    Thus to have a value like ‘ohana, where we are allowed, no encouraged! to seize such freedom of choice is a magnificent blessing. The popular adage says that “age is a state of mind.” So is family.

  3. says

    My Aloha Virtue List

    This is reprinted from my Thursday column on Lifehack.org. Virtue is not a word we hear all that much; it’s not a thought that crops up in the regularity and routine of our days. Well, I propose that we consider

  4. says

    Rosa this is one of the best articles I have ever read on Faith. I like your words… “Faith teaches us to trust and to believe, and within family we find our greatest teachers.” This is so true.
    My dad taught me about faith and that gift came home with his passing last month. This last Sunday we scattered his ashes out to sea, where my mom was laid to rest in 1986. They are together again and my faith is stronger than ever.
    Thanks for taking time for us… your online family this holiday season.
    Merry Christmas to you, your family and the entire Ho‘ohana community.

  5. says

    Learning Over the Holidays

    Learning does have seasonal character to it; have you noticed? —In the beginning of the year we learn about our capacity for dreaming up big steps forward; we learn how brave we are in imagining how the rest of the