Return to Hana, Maui

When we really need to rest we come to Hana, Maui.

After a five hour flight from San Francisco to Kahului, my husband and I arrived Saturday evening around seven, flying south along the coast in a small ten-seater plane.  The sun had set behind Haleakala and a dark rainy sky hovered over the gray green land.  The dusk was darkening and soon it would be night.  Weak late light struggled through clouds, but as we flew low over the rich rain forest, I could still see white caps kissing the lava rock, rolling in, caressing the shore.  I could see cars on the road below, and I could chart their winding path through the forest by following their headlight beams.

Fifteen minutes after take-off we descended to the dark runway, landing and rolling a bit, taxiing down and around the loop of asphalt to the warm light of the one-room Hana Airport.  Patrick from the hotel greeted us, a familiar and friendly face, and we bundled into his van.  We pulled up to the lobby and he moved our bags from the van to a golf cart.  Son we bumped and rolled over the lawns to our cottage.

I had bridged the gap between home and away, our roots pulled out and replanted in a different soil for a short time.  Memory struggled to adapt, pulling images in and out, re-creating thought patterns and making room for this new place, this away-from-home place.  My mind stretched to encompass more, to absorb difference.

Now from our verandah I look out to the sea where a black rock coast divides green lawns and blue waters, white foam slides in and pulls out, massaging the shore with lacy fingers.  Horses graze in an adjacent pasture and birds chatter a curious conversation, calling, singing, celebrating. The palms rise straight and tall, their branches reaching in gentle arcs out and up as though embracing heaven with their frond-arms, urging the sky down to the land.  Indeed, as the sea greets the shore, so these coconut trees desire the sky.  The trees sigh, the sea sighs, I sigh.

Saturday’s rain transformed yesterday’s Sunday landscape into a painter’s canvas of color.  The air was fresh, washed clean, the sun warm, the skies brilliantly blue with a few white puffy clouds moving in from the sea.  We hiked up to Hasegawa’s General Store for lunch things for the week – apples and peanut butter, an edam wheel and wheat crackers, strong ground coffee beans and a quart of milk.  Near the entrance one last copy of Hana-lani was displayed, well thumbed.  Perhaps I shall give Hasegawa’s a few more copies while I am here.

On the way back to our cottage, I heard singing coming from the Wananalua Congregational Church and decided to join the folks for Sunday worship.  Only about twenty-five gathered in the historic church this day, many having gone to the baseball tournament in Fagan’s park nearby (the “Church of Baseball” as some say).  The people were standing and sharing their concerns – prayer requests – and soon the pastor rose to preach on conflict.  As I looked to the white chancel with its large white cross, I thought of Nani-lei, the character in my novel who loved the cross, the cross of this church and the cross on the hill.  I wondered, somewhat amazed, that my characters had become so real to me.  It is as though they live here, and I am visiting.  I turned my thoughts back to the preacher and his methods for dealing with conflict in the church.  In the end, he concluded, Jesus was the only one that could resolve our conflicts, so we had better include him at the table.  He was right, I thought, for while he didn’t talk about a fallen world and Christ bridging the gap between man and God, between earth and heaven, I think this is what he meant.  Nani’s cross did the bridging, and it was as simple as that.  Conflict resolution.  I left with a happy sense of being a part of this living organism, being baptized into the great body we call the Church.  One can never be lonely, alone, with such a baptism.  One is always loved.

I returned to the cottage, following the path parting the grass.  The landscape here is many-greened: lime green, avocado green, olive green, the grass now bright green, now emerald green, now golden green.  Red ginger with conical flowers and sturdy leaves border the lawns and orange-blossomed hibiscus trees throw shade upon the grass.  All the while the birds sing.  All the while trade winds scatter aromas of fresh mown grass, plumeria, jasmine.

There is much to do in Hana, but we will do little.  We will not be riding horses, or surfing, or driving upcountry to hike the trails to the falls.  We shall not return to Lindbergh’s grave this time, although the white church with the green door on the cliff over the sea carries many memories.  We shall not visit the Seven Sacred Pools, commonly called Oheo Gulch.  These are settings in my novel, Hana-lani, and shall always be close to my heart.

My husband and I are in our gentle years, as they say, and we shall take shorter walks through the meadows to the sea.  We shall hike to Fagan’s enormous lava cross on the flanks of Haleakala, climbing the trail through the pastures, watching for curious cows, especially those with horns.  We shall visit Hana Bay and the old pier that once received goods and people, that once was the only entrance to this remote village.  We shall swim, feeling our muscles stretch, welcoming the gentle ache of exercise.

We shall breathe the fresh air, listen to the birds and the sea crashing below.  We shall read and write.  We shall say our daily prayers to the God who made all of this glory.

We shall enjoy re-creation.  We shall rest so that we may come home restored, our roots well watered.

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