God is full of surprises.
He’s surprised us by the weather the last few days, for there has been little rain and a good deal of sun. We settled in to a room overlooking Hanalei Bay, the home of Puff the Magic Dragon (remember Peter, Paul, and Mary?) and before that, Lumahai Beach, the setting for the filming of South Pacific.
I am always stunned as well by Kauai itself, for it is the most dramatic of islands, and the Princeville-Hanalei area one of the most dramatic of Kauai. With the heavy rainfall, the terrain is a lush rain forest, and the coasts are rugged with high cliffs that plunge into the sea. Hanalei Bay on the north shore is a quiet finger of a bay that slides into a white sand beach, bordered by mountains and cliffs ringing to the east and west. We are in a hotel that has been built into the eastern side of the bay, and we look out to what I believe are pali, the vertical ridge-like canyons that rise into the mountains. In good weather, the green crags with their peaks and bluffs stand silhouetted against the blue dome of a sky, the sea below spread out to the horizon. The sun sets this time of year behind these cliffs, and turns the white puffy clouds orange and crimson.
We drove into Hanalei one day and to the end of its narrow road where a State Park welcomes visitors. Along the way is the Post Office and general store, and a historic church, green shingled, with stained glass and belfry, pitched roof and red doors called Wai’oli Hui’ia Church, once Congregational (founded 1834) and today United Church of Christ. A plain interior, but solid, and remains I am sure a witness in the neighborhood. I picked up a bulletin from last Sunday and saw some familiar pieces of the service – the Gloria, the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology in Hawaiian (wish I could have heard that!), Psalm 139, the wonderful hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” They once ran a mission school for the neighborhood although I’m not sure they need to now with the public school in operation.
The road to Hanalei is lovely, with green and lush foliage, and single-lane bridges that discourage too much traffic and encourage a sharp eye. Flooding often closes the road, but it has not rained much lately so it wasn’t a problem, but then again we have not seen the myriad waterfalls we recalled from earlier times when it poured and the water streamed down the cliffs, white ribbons falling through the lush green, plunging to the sea.
There was a time when Hanalei was a hippie center, and the drug culture rampant, the bearded folks picking up their checks at the post office. The area has moved on it seems, and folks have upgraded their properties and become staunchly middle class, possibly proletariat. We learned lessons from those years – the immense risks, often deadly, of “free love” which meant of course “free sex,” and of addiction itself in all its forms, the deadening of the mind, soul, and body, an early death for many. Some folks experimented and moved on and others stayed, lured by the good vibes of the slow colorful drug infused life, a life full of self and no responsibilities to others. Friends of mine were participants and victims in that culture of death which was so camouflaged at the time to seem so full of life. Those that survived, now in their sixties, continue to drift, unable to connect the dots of daily living, of planning, of setting goals, of becoming a creative human being. Some sort of synapse in the brain simply burned out. They have lost their families and in some cases their minds. They have grown obese and continue the minor addictions of alcohol and tobacco. One friend is severely diabetic and schizophrenic.
I dropped off a set of my Trilogy at the local library and spent many hours this week reworking my first draft of The Magdalene Mystery, my novel-in-progress. I also heard from my publisher that my fourth novel, Hana-lani, set in Maui, will be available by the new year, a sudden surprise.
I say my prayers each day, read and write, and wonder how God will surprise me next.