Kukui

KukuiKini and his son Akamai, rose early in the morning and started their journey. They had looked forward to this special day for a long time. To build suspense, Kini had not told Akamai where they were going or what they were going to do.

“Papa, where are we going?” asked little Akamai.

“Son, today, I want to show you the most special tree in Hawaii. It’s called the Kukui.”

“Why is it so special?” asked Akamai

“A long time ago, kukui nuts were burned for light. The nuts were tied to a palm leaf; every 15 minutes another one would be lit. The kukui oil could be put into a stone lamp as well. They had a phrase, kukui hele po, which meant when light comes, darkness flees. They were used to measure time since they did not have watches. In fact, when my Kupuna kāne (grandpa) was sent on an errand, his māmā (mother) would tell him to be home before the second nut burned out.”

“Can it be used for other things, too?” asked Akamai.

“Sure. Have you ever seen leis made of dark nuts? Those are kukui leis. Even the kukui tree trunk was used to make fishing canoes. Today, we use the oil from the kukui nut to protect, heal and nourish our skin.”

They finally came to a tall tree with beautiful white flowers all over it. Papa led Akamai to a branch. “Do you see the dark green area in the flower? This is where the nut is found. Akamai, I have brought you to this tree for an important lesson.”

“What is it papa?”

“The kukui tree teaches us that blessing others requires being broken and given.”

“What do you mean, papa?”

“For the nut to give light, it had to be burned up. For the tree to become a canoe, it has to be cut down. For the nut to heal, it has to be crushed.” Kini watched Akamai think through what he had just said. Under the shade of the old kukui tree, father and son heard the cool breeze rustle the tree’s leaves.

“I think I understand, papa. We are blessed with many things. But, for us to bless others, we have to be broken so the blessing can be given.”

“That’s exactly right, son. You are a wonderful boy, full of great potential and talents. Don’t hold them for yourself, share them. And, if difficulties come, see them as tools to open your heart to others.”

Having learned a great lesson, Akamai asked, “Papa, can we go swimming now?”

“Yes, son, I was thinking the same thing.”

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