By guest blogger, Andy Montero
Those who know me well, know that I'm really into Polynesian and Tiki culture. I collect the artwork, enjoy the music, read up on the history and mythology, and enjoy the occasional libation with my Kalua Pork BBQ. Our family will only stay at the Polynesian Resort when we vacation at Walt Disney World. I have my own Facebook page and blog devoted to all things Tiki, and our basement is decked out in Polynesian decor. But what exactly is Tiki?
According to Polynesian mythology, Tiki represents the first man, akin to Adam, who walked westward across the Pacific Ocean and settled the Polynesian islands. Tiki has also come to mean the wooden carvings that represent the creator god of Polynesian myth. Not exactly the creation story that we Presbyterians subscribe to, but a belief in The Almighty nonetheless.
I have discovered a much stronger link between our world and the world of Tiki, and it involves the word mahalo. In the Hawai'ian language, aloha and mahalo are two of the most important words. Aloha has come to be a simple greeting, meaning both hello and goodbye. Mahalo has come to mean either bless you or thank you. When you walk the grounds at The Polynesian Resort, all of the friendly staff say aloha to you at every turn, and mahalo is written on all of the garbage cans, to thank you for disposing of your trash properly.
To Hawai'ians, however, these two words mean a whole lot more. They use them as 1-word blessings or prayers, and the spirit of aloha, which is a feeling of gratitude and joy, is evident in their use. Hawai'ians tend to treat everybody as a part of their extended ohana, or family. When they say aloha or mahalo to you, it comes from their heart.
So what does mahalo really mean? I looked at the etymology of the word, and it translates as follows: [Ma = In] + [hâ = breath] + [alo = presence, face], or "May you be in Divine Breath." Divine Breath is clearly a reference to The Holy Spirit, so by saying mahalo, you're basically saying, "May The Holy Spirit be with you." That's a pretty powerful word!
I've really come to love the word mahalo, and I say it often. You should too. If you see me in church or out on the street, please say mahalo to me. If you do, I'll know you're wishing me a heartfelt blessing, which comes from a feeling of gratitude and joy, and makes you a part of my ohana.
Aloha and mahalo.
About the Author
Andy Montero lives in Bethlehem, PA and is a loving husband and father of 3 children. He is employed by Compass Energy as an energy salesperson, and is the co-leader of the DadsZone men's ministry at FPCB. In his spare time, Andy enjoys music, sports, writing, and has developed a real passion for Polynesian culture.