A Poem: Te Whare Tapa Wha

Honour your body.
It is your waka, the vessel you navigate the tributaries of life.
It holds the treasure of your mind and heart.
It is the anchor for your spirit’s flight.
Give it is full due.

Treat it with the dignity and care
that you would one who serves you.

Treasure your heart.
It has its own tributaries,
that surpass the body in which its held.
It’s a gift that enables us to love beyond ourselves,
but no love will match that we give ourselves.

We do well to know our heart,
and keep it whole.

Uphold your mind.
It too expands beyond your sight.
It holds a wealth of knowledge and
wisdom, as a treasury of gold.
But we must be careful of how its gifts are used.

Our cleverness can lead to division with pride at its root.
We can undermine all we have worked to build.

Instead we are to tend the
connections that we make,
as though they were the ties that bind us in our health.
For although we rise solitary from the ground
our roots merge with one another in the earth.

And the health of all of us,
depends on the health of each one.

Prize your Spirit
Give it access to the source of life.
Feed it with the things that nourish it.
Orient it to its true north.
It has wings, and would surprise you
with the view from up high.

As we travel home in the waka, that is our body
we find our spirit is the guide at our helm.

Body, spirit, heart and mind.
Community that binds us all as one.
We make up a treasure greater than the sum of all our parts.
And we’re to remember why we are given life.
Life is always a seed that divides, to become more of itself.

In our honouring of ourselves,
we will find we will always revere others in kind.

Ana Lisa de Jong
Living Tree Poetry
July 2017

E hara taku toa
I te toa takitahi,
he toa takitini.

‘My strength is not as an individual,
but as a collective’
Maori Proverb

Image:  The Navigators, Sofia Minson

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