This last Sunday, the First Sunday in Lent, we flew along the coast in a Cessna ten-seater, low and hugging the rugged cliffs, the foam crashing against the black rock. Haleakala, the dormant volcano, rose above the cliffs, its green flanks sloping to the sea. Beyond Haleakala an unusually blue sky filled the heavens, and now, at 4:30 in the afternoon, shadows began to form as the sun moved down toward the horizon. The plane droned on, its engines whirring, the occasional bleep signaling information to the pilot.
Kahalui to Kona is about a fifteen-minute flight, and we had the plane to ourselves. We had checked in by phone from the airline counter, and the pilot had weighed out luggage and loaded it into the hold. We climbed up the folding steps to the low door, found the row of single seats, each by a window. The seatbelts strapped across the shoulder and the lap, clicking together. We taxied and slowly lifted, watching the the town and farmlands diminish and heading south over the sea. I peered out the window, under the wing, to the verdant green, the white-capped sea, and the amazing coastline cliffs zigzagging to Hana.
My fourth novel, Hana-lani, awaits release by the publisher, OakTara, and as my husband and I flew to the rain forest village in southern Maui, nestled along the coast with a sunrise over the sea and a sunset over the volcano, I heard in my mind many familiar lines, seeing the poignant scenes that form the novel: the plane ride of the young woman from San Francisco, the passage from city to rural, a movement that changes her life forever.
We have, like Meredith in Hana-lani, retreated to another world, a simpler world of land and sea, of sky and mountain. The trade winds seem to own this earth, and we watch the sky for signs of change – clouds moving in, clouds moving away, the sun out, the sun covered, the shades of light coloring the sea and the mountain in infinitesimal shades of greens, grays, blues. For indeed, all takes part in the sea, the mountain, and the forest in between. We, as humans in this lush, both wild and gentle, landscape, are part of it but at the same time are observers from outside. And such a world to observe.
We have settled in to a cottage on a hillside of grass sloping to black cliffs and pounding surf. Wind and weather surges, rain pounds our roof at night, sun burns through the moist air of day to blister our thin city skins. We watch and wonder, in a world of mysterious and marvelous color and movement.
We are also traveling through Lent, and have retreated here to a desert of sorts, one away from the hustle of the everyday. We shall walk and swim. We shall dine on a verandah on deck chairs. There is no TV in our room, no newspapers, no easy Internet. I shall say my Lenten collect, engraft Scripture onto my heart and mind, and pray for guidance in this holy time. I shall also work on my current novel-in-progress, The Magdalene Melody, as I hear the notes of my novel in waiting, Hana-lani, echoing around me in Hana.
May God guide us in all things, each in our own way, this Lent 2010, as we prepare for the great festival of Easter.