By Carlos Kaukahi Severson
I grew up with my hands in the soil beside my mom and Grandmother who were native Tabajara from Brazil. Grandma would call me over to listen to her conversation with her beloved ferns that grew for her as easily as rain falls on Kauaʻi. She would put her hands around my shoulders and ask me things like, “Can you feel what she is asking of you? Is she asking for attention or does she want to be let alone? Does she need sunlight? Too much water?” Then she would laugh as I tried to listen with my ears and then lovingly reminded me to listen with my whole body.
When Castle High School asked me to oversee their agriculture program and 7-acre farm, I did a lot of walking and meditating throughout the kuleana area, listening and feeling and dreaming with the ʻāina to do what it called and asked of me. I knew if I forced my egoʻs agenda that I would fail in some aspect, if not now then down the line. The program would be built from the landʻs intentions, I just needed to put into practice what my grandmother taught me.
It’s not just what the plants and the ‘aina (the land) are saying. It’s what they want us to do. Human beings are here on the earth for a special purpose. When we listen, we tap into the silent knowledge that is always around us.
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