Many would say "Hawaii is heavenly”, and after visiting numerous times over my life- I'd agree for the most part. As beautiful as it is, it still pales in comparison to eternity and Heaven as described in God’s word. But still, we are to appreciate and care for the earth being stewards of Creation. That is our job, no matter where we live, to bloom where we are planted, but also to sow seeds into our community of faith, hope and love.
Hawaii is often featured as a place of pure bliss in instagram perfected photos. Rarely do we post about the reality that there is still homelessness, pain, abuse, sex trafficking— all the painful realities of humanities brokenness are found there too.
Do we focus on the pain and ugliness of the world as our focal point, or do we choose to see the beauty and the possibilities for restoration and bring hope into the world through our thoughts, words and actions. We are created to create. The choice is ours.
Back to Hawaii….The first time I went was with my family on vacation while my dad had a business trip there and I was smitten! I fell in love with the Islands. Most notably, the weather, the beaches, the people, the food, and especially the flowers!
I am a flower fanatic.
To me, flowers are some of God’s special love notes spread throughout the world that keep blessing each onlooker through their vibrant colours, scents and mystery. Over the years Tim and I have visited the “Big Island” of Hawaii, Maui (Valley Isle), Oahu (Gathering Place), Kauai (Garden Isle), (Plus Molokai and Lanai for just a day trip and to snorkel). Our favourite place to visit is Kauai. Each visit, I’d get a flower lei but would often see the hula dancers or brides on the beach wear Hakus and was curious how to make them…
Curiosity can be a good thing if it leads us to explore, create and try new things that bring us joy. While here, one of my favourite memory markers was the unique opportunity to attend a Haku making class with Elvrine Chow author of the book “Heavenly Hakus Kauai” with other women on the island, both locale and tourists alike. There is something about creating with our own hands that inspires beauty and hope that we can bring change and beauty into the world. I’m no artist, but I do see the need for us all to awaken the creative side of us. It’s good for our mental health to focus on something in the here and now. With all the triggers out there in this world to mess with our soul, creativity is a gift to us. Anxiety, fear, complacency or isolation robs us of the peace we were meant to have. In my service to my community, I know too well the struggle with compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma or other forms of oppression. As a result of my own journey to restoration (and walking alongside others), I’m a huge advocate for self care. Sometimes that involves doing something creative as it’s a form of mindfulness. For me, playing with flowers is a definite boost to my joy factor.
Want to make a Haku? Here’s how:
Supplies needed: Flowers, leafs, raffia, green yarn, 20+ inch stiff leaf (Like the coconut leaf- or another leaf that is comparable), scissors and the board with nails is optional as featured below.
STEP #1: Pick your flowers and set up the supplies: For me, it was like a kid in a candy store when I was set loose with a whicker basket to pick out the flowers and leaves I wanted in my Haku. The spiritual symbolisms of choice, creation and beauty was all around me as was led by Elvrine in this craft:
STEP #2: Use a long raffia and yarn/string (Preferably green) and tie to a board to help keep the Haku aligned. It will be approximately 20-22 inches long or longer that is used to strengthen the Haki inside the base of the Haku which uses a leaf (See below) as the crown with the raffia inside it. The raffia is also longer so it can be tied in a bow once the Haku is finished.
STEP #3: Take a coconut leaf (See above) and measure it so it can fit your head. (If you don’t have a coconut leaf in your area, find a leaf that is comparable that is stiff and thin.) You can also make leaf roses as well to intersperse in your Haku if you are being adventurous. Fold the leaf in half width wise over the rafia to serve as your base to wrap each flower bunch to. (See below):
Step #4: Start to create little bunches of flowers and place them in the order you’d like to see them placed on the haku. You’ll tie each bunch with some rafia to hold them in place. Try and combine some larger flowers with some greenery or white babies breath. There is no right or wrong way to design a haku Some are bright and wild, others are subtle and romantic. Some use huge flowers and leaves and others are woven with tight braiding and small flowers. OR if you don’t like the bunches look, you simply add each flower or greenery once at a time. (See Video link from Heavenly Hakus).
STEP #5: Lay the bunches in a circle to help you imagine what the finished haku will look like before you start adding them to the coconut leaf (crown leaf). Begin adding the flower bunches to the crown leaf by holding the rafia/leaf in one hand and the placing the flower bunch onto the leaf. Once placed, use the yarn (or rafia) to wrap the bunch around the leaf crown making sure the flowers stay on one side of the crown and it doesn’t twist up. If there is one thing I remember from this class- you got to relax, enjoy yourself, but “Keep it close and tight” i.e. keep the bunches tightly woven together so they don’t fall apart, but not too tight or the flowers will break off! Whew. Relax. Breathe…
STEP #6: (or throughout the Haku Making process), check the backside of your Haki to make sure your yarn isn’t too loose. Being a beginner, I know I wasn’t as a pro the back shows some areas of inconsistency- kind of like quilting! You can tell a lot about the artist and if they are newbies or seasoned ones by looking behind their work of art! OH well, you got to start somewhere:)
Step #7: Finish the Haku by tying up the ends to assure there is no loose rafia or yarn on the coconut leaf. To test it’s strength, my Heavenly Haku mentor dipped my work of art in bucket of water and then looped it around like a lasso to make sure no flowers would fall off. Some did, and we adjusted it accordingly, Yikes! Once finished, she helped tie it around my head and voila, my first Haku:)
Click here to visit Elvrine’s website and check out her video! I get a chuckle of the many roosters and chicken noises in the background as she speaks in her video as that is so common here on the island!
Wearing my Heavenly Haku on the beach with my husband, out to dinner and hanging out on the lanai made me feel very feminine, earthy, and Hawaiian princess like. As I watched it slowly dry and wither as the days went by- it lost it’s moisture and with it, it’s radiant gorgeous colours. But that is anticipated. Rather than pouting, we relish in the moments of being able to create -so, we create again - we try new things - build memories into masterpieces that inspire creative thinking. My take away? We are created to create- be it through art, music, business, healthy lives, families, communities. No matter what our current beliefs are (or not), I encourage you to honour the creative aspect of your being.
I’ll leave you with some verses to ponder of another kind of “Crown”. An offering of honour and dignity as we are all created in the image of God. As we prep for Easter, we can be reminded of the opportunity that we all have to experience the exchange of His crown of thorns for the eternal crown of pure grace.