I had an incredible day yesterday (Wednesday).
It began with a ride down a steep cliff on a mule. For a person who knows as much about horses as I do (slightly more than nothing) and loves heights as much as I do (not at all) just the ride was an adventure. Our guide, a bona fide cowboy dude who spent the whole ride swinging a machete at hanging leaves whether they were in our way or not, began by telling us that he'd ridden mules his whole life and never seen one jump off a cliff. This was more reassuring than you'd think. There are 26 switchbacks down the cliff, and I was proud that I only had to close my eyes a few times (switchback #9, you are my nemesis!). But I mostly kept my eyes open, because I liked to watch the mule in front of me and how carefully he set his feet down and to think "he does this every day." And also, even though I wasnt a fan of looking down, I could look OUT and what I saw was like a dream of tropical beauty - palm trees, pacific ocean so blue, big hills off in the distance.
There is much already written about Kalaupapa itself, so I won't repeat too much here about the background. But I will say that I felt so fortunate in our tour guide, Pat, who (although he has been coming there since 1969) was moved to real tears by parts of the story. It was as moving as a good sermon to hear a story that's obviously been told so many times it's known by heart, but is still as heart opening to the teller as the first time.
The best of the day....I started to type this, but realized there were so many "best parts" it's hard to say that for sure, but ONE of the best parts of the day was...getting to meet one of the resident patients - there are 9 left in Kaluapapa. It was my goal to meet and talk with them, but I had been warned many times that it was impossible. Awesome tour guide Pat, however, made a quick introduction and I was able to have a conversation with one man there. It was one of those conversations that you will never forget. It is illegal to take pictures of patients at Kalauapapa, so I did not ask for a photo.
Last night, a church member invited me to accompany her to a funeral (there is, she says, a "slew" of funerals this week - we are going to another one tomorrow). I felt so honored to join the community in this particularly intimate way. It was on the beach and as part of the ceremony, conch shells were blown, many-colored birds were released into the air and we ate a mountain of good food. We often call a funeral a "celebration of life" but I was impressed at how much this seemed like a true celebration.
Speaking of the church member reminds me that I need to start my preparation for church on Sunday - I am preaching at three little UCC churches here on Molokai in one day.
More to come.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I loved the ferry ride last night. It was not much bigger than the ferries we used to take to Madeline Island when I was a kid, but the ocean is much wavier than Madeline Island. So, even though it was a relatively calm night, you couldn't really walk around. I was grateful that Jeff was not with me - there was no way he would have been able to stay in his chair on those rolling seas. I was taking scopolamine, so I wasn't sick, and we were headed right into this beautiful sunset and I loved the salt spray on my face. I've been reading some about early travel to Hawaii and I had a new appreciation for what it would mean to set out on a boat in those early days. I was reminded of something that I think Jack London said to a young man traveling with him this leaky boat of his, when they were making for Oahu - "Don't be afraid, we're only two miles from solid ground." When the young man asked where, London pointed down, to the bottom of the ocean!
There was some confusion with getting set up in housing, but due to the kindness of strangers, it all worked out - got a ride to the parsonage from a musician named Bully (or Billy? sure sounded like Bully) I met on the ferry who got directions from a woman at the church, when we arrived, we found the car and the keys inside that had been left by another church members. The only problem is that in the all the confusion of calling, having to charge up my phone in the ferry parking lot and it being dark and me being pretty tired from a long day of traveling by then was that I lost my phone. I don't care that much about being able to call, but it also is my only camera, so I would like to have it back.
Luckily, I know where Bully is playing tomorrow over lunch time, so I'm going over there to hear him play and hopefully will find my phone. There may not be even one stop light in Molokai (as the locals and the tourist books delight to tell you) but that doesn't mean that they are free from satellites here. Jeff told me he found the phone by a purple house, which I'm assuming is Bully's I drove by it today, but could not recognize his truck, so I'll catch up with tomorrow and do a more thorough search.
(Happy ending. Bully DID have my phone AND I got to hear some great music!)
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
This morning, I got E to school more or less on time, went to aerobics class, read an encouraging and challenging essay for writers, returned some very overdue library books (one finished, one half-read - evidently my idea of "magnificent" and "beguiling" is not the same as those endorsers), and sat in a soft chair in the library to write some on my book project.
It's 10:42 a.m. and so far, everything is going is planned. I try to remember that this should not lull me into a false sense of certainty that the rest of day will also go as planned. I also try to remember that when things don't go as planned, sometimes something even better happens.
On Saturday night, we decided to go out to see the Starlight Parade. "We have to go," I said, "When will it ever again be the Starlight Parade on a Saturday night when it is neither raining nor sermon-prep time?" So we all rallied from what had been a relaxing day and squeezed into the MAX train heading downtown.
On the train, the party had already started. The guy behind us smelled like a beer and the teenager standing next to Jeff spilled a little puddle of Red Bull on him, but we were all in good humor (even Jeff, once the Red Bull stickiness had been cleaned up thanks to a mom with a stroller and a box of baby wipes). The woman sitting across from me told me it was her 23rd birthday and she was going to see a band but she didn't know which one and she didn't even care, as long as she could get out for once.
We made it through 4 stations before the train ground to a halt at the Washington Park/Zoo stop. E pulled his hood over his head and played a video game on a phone. The intercom came on and I couldn't hear it, of course, but the birthday girl told me that it said there would be a few minutes delay because of the Starlight Run. The Voice crackled on five minutes later. And then five minutes after that.
J and E and I looked at each other and said all together, "Let's get off the train." Even in our little family we have learned that if we all have the same thought at the same time, it's a good idea to pay attention to that. So we got off, and rode the elevator out of the train tunnel and up, up, up.
We were planning to see a parade.We would never plan to take a train to the arboretum at twilight, to walk along the darkling trails, to listen to the perfectly quiet quietness of the woods at evening.
The sun was setting, sending long shadows through the trees.The dogwoods are blooming right now and shining like stars. E ran ahead and walked back, ran ahead and walked back, just like when he was much smaller. We tried to reach all the way around a tree with our arms but the tree was too big and old. We spiraled up the silent bowl of the war memorial. We stood under the flag, still flying I guess from Memorial Day, and E got us to sing "Oh Say Can You See?" although none of us hit that high note at the end. Except for another family of kids laughing and rolling down a hill, we hardly saw another soul.
On the empty train back to our car, E pushed his hood off and leaned his head on my shoulder. "This was so much better than a parade, mommy."