The Bamboo - Mid-Pacific Institute

Kahu's Corner

The Bamboo

Posted on September 9, 2014

by Kahu Wendell Davis on September 9, 2014

"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock". - Matthew 7:25

The 'ohe (bamboo) is a versatile and giant member of the grass family and able to grow more rapidly than any other plant. It was one of the most useful and practical plants (along with the niu, coconut) for our Hawaiian ancestors in providing water storage, food, raw materials for household, garden use, musical instruments and more. 'Ohe is said to be one of the "canoe plants" brought to Hawaii by early Polynesian settlers. Our kupuna (elders) used the 'ohe to kindle fires and irrigate crops (water would flow down the troughs from the stream into the taro (kalo) fields). Long before the arrival of metal from the Western world, the 'ohe was also used as a traditional knife or "cutting" tool. Often times, it would be used to cut the umbilical cord of a newborn. The 'ohe was also used in the tapa cloth-making process where the women used lapa (bamboo sticks) as a "stamp" to create designs and patterns upon their tapa cloths. The 'ohe was a valuable plant for instrumentation and hula accompaniment. A three-holed nose flute ('ohe hano ihu), split tubes of percussion (pu'ili), sound tubes ('ohe ka'eke'eke) and harp ('ohe kani) provided musical sounds of expression. The 'ohe had many other uses including, building posts, gutters, floats, masts, furniture, utensils, agriculture, fishing poles, ladders and vessels for water (the tubes of the 'ohe, with closed ends, were valuable resources for carrying and storing water, especially, on ocean voyages).

The 'ohe and its multiple usages can be described in three important areas: VIGOROUS, STRONG and CREATIVE. In our scriptural passage today, the value of this plant and its usage can contain several lessons that can be easily applied to our journey in life. Let me share three of them with you by using the acronym "O-H-E".

"O" stands for: OPEN YOUR LIFE TO JOY (Vigorous)

When my children were little, our doctor's office had a play area on the outside of the reception area. We would bring our kids to the doctor because they were sick, but, the play area would distract them for a brief moment from their sickness. Their faces glowed, their energy revived and for a short period of time, they seem to be transported to another "realm" free from their health needs. The play area gave them joy in a bad situation. Sometimes, when we are afraid, depressed, angry or frustrated, we need to be vigorous and proactive that we won't lose our joy! Develop a "play area" internally, so, that you never lose your joy, no matter what circumstances you may be facing. OPEN YOUR LIFE TO THE JOY!

"H" stands for: HAVE A POSITIVE POINT OF VIEW (Strong)

Have you ever been caught in the rain without an umbrella? Well, I have and its not a great feeling when you're soaking wet. However, when I do have an umbrella, everything changes and I now, have control over my circumstances. Likewise, even when life hits you with a "rainy storm", you have the opportunity to open your "umbrella" of courage and strength to keep dry, even though everything around you is "wet". You have the strength to overcome all things!

Finally, the last letter is "E". "E" stands for: EXPRESS YOUR VALUE (Creative)

In the wheat farms, a farmer will plant one kernel of wheat in the ground and that kernel will produce a stalk with three heads of wheat. Each head will host fifteen to thirty-five kernels, producing a hundred kernels from the stalk. When planted, these kernels will produce ten thousand kernels. When those ten thousand kernels are replanted, they will produce a million kernels. Here's what I'm trying to say: Your usefulness will be tied to its value and its value is tied to fulfilling it's purpose. The more it can be used for greater things, the more valuable it can become.

It is incredible what one kernel can do and..... YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

I want to encourage someone today to LIVE WITH JOY, GET A POSITIVE POINT OF VIEW AND HARNESS A PURPOSE-DRIVEN EXPRESSION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.