I have repeatedly read Change We Must, My Spiritual Journey, Nana Veary's autobiographical book rich with love and wisdom.Nana Veary, 1908-1993, shares with us her inspiring spiritual journey which begins in her childhood Hawaiian home where she was influenced by both her traditional Hawaiian grandfather and her Christian mother who happened to chant to fish in Hawaiian. She writes “I am pure Hawaiian and grew up in a Hawai’i of another era, a place that was entirely different from what we know today. Life was simpler and its rhythm was more natural”.
For about 10 years as a young adult for Nana participated in the Pentecostal Church. About that experience she writes, “The Pentecostal Church [...] taught me that anything is possible. It gave me a faith so strong it is unshakable. No matter how dismal things may seem, I believe that all things are possible to those who believe and learn to love God within themselves”.
In the early 1940’s, while in her 30’s, Nana worked as a lifeguard in Honolulu while she and her husband raised their 3 children. One day Nana learned that 21 of the boys/young men who hung out at the pool had been picked up by the cops for vagrancy. She bailed them all out of jail and took them home with her to her two bedroom home to join her family of five – all 21 of them! She called them “my boys” and they lived with her family for about 6 years. Nana titled the chapter Change We Must in which she shared this story, "The Happiest Time”. And indeed, this story warms my heart!
In the next era of her life Nana lived as a Science of Mind practitioner. In the final years of her life she was drawn to live a life guided by Zen.
What I love about Change We Must is the way Nana fully embraced various spiritual teachings at different times in her life, and how she naturally moved from one era of her life to the next in a most unexpected but wonderful way. She fully embraced her communities, and yet when she was faced with conflict of values between herself and various spiritual groups she was part of, she gracefully moved on, with full appreciation for the gifts she had been given. She embraced change.
I return to reread this inspirational book whenever I need a reminder to ground myself in love. The natural life rhythms in Hawaii that Nana describes ease me away from the rush of life and into an awareness of what is important in my own live. On every stage of Nana's spiritual journey she lives a life of loving service. May I follow her example.
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