Tag Archives: Maui

Sunday in Hana, Maui

Learning the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian may now be on my to-do list. I have picked up French and Italian “Our Father” phrases through the years, but Hawaiian is particularly foreign to my western ear. Even so, the prayer song this morning in Hana’s St. Mary’s Church was lilting and lovely and I think God smiled upon our efforts. 

On our way to St. Mary’s, we passed the Wananalua Church, the historic Congregational Church which is featured in my novel, Hana-lani (Nani-lei’s church with the big white cross), and continued the half block to the historic Catholic Church. St. Mary’s is a white church, inside and out. It’s whiteness is like entering a soft cloud, airy and arched, and its curved windows along the side aisles open onto a sea of green grass. At the door we were greeted warmly with leis of vines and leaves and wide smiles and kisses on the cheek. We found seats in a pew. Others came in, some greeting friends and family, some looking about for the first time, wondering at the airy interior, visitors like us.

The Mass danced through the white space. Hawaiian phrases sailed alongside English as though the temperate breezes blowing through the windows winged and paired them as they flew to the high altar. I felt as though I too had been borne up high on the “wings of a prayer” to a holy aerie. Yet, I knew that we the people anchored the pews as all around and above angels dived and soared in their airy dance.

It was a good thing to worship together here in Hana once more, and again I sensed the Body of Christ united before God’s altar, partaking of God himself, allowing God to weave through each of us as we stood in song or knelt in prayer. The hymns weren’t our classic Anglo-Catholic hymns from our home parish, but the beat was easy and the words profound, and as I found myself tapping my toe lightly on the hardwood floor, I sensed that we the people were pulled into the experience of worship itself. This is a good thing and not to be considered lightly – to be pulled into prayer and praise, singing together with one voice to God our creator. And it is not a good thing, I think, to be pushed away from joining in worship, to be watching as spectators, as sometimes happens in evangelical or even high liturgical productions, silencing the voices of the people in the pews. 

The Mass, the great prayer given to us by Christ, is meant to be a sacred shared supper, one that never loses sight of God’s presence in the bread and wine, always points to whom we worship with every fiber of our being, every intention of our soul. When we cross the threshold of a church, we step into the home of God and the home of his people. We become one in him and through him one with each other. We are in this place, this sacred space, to worship God, and to receive him into our hearts and bodies. We are God’s family, his dear children.

Hana, Maui is a small gentle town sloping to the sea. The green flanks of Haleakala rise to the west and the blue waters undulate to the east. The sun appears early, erupting from the curved horizon separating sea and sky, traveling up and turning slate to silver to deep sapphire. The trade winds soften the burning sun and the sky is an ever-changing drama of cloud formations.

And near the center of town, where Hasegawa’s General Store offers snacks and tackle and the Post Office connects with the rest of the world, a white church stands in the grass, with its doors open and welcoming. “Come on in,” the church says. “We love you.”

So we did just that this Sunday morning in Hana town, and I’m so glad we did.

My Birthday in Hana

We flew into Hana on my sixty-sixth birthday. 

The ten-seater plane lurched and bounced a bit in the winds as it rose over Kahalui, but soon glided smoothly along the coastline of eastern Maui heading south to Hana. I peered through the window of the plane as we flew beneath the volcano Haleakala, the green pastures clothing her flanks, the skies framing her summit in a pale misty blue.

The outskirts of Kahalui were soon left behind as we sped alongside the black rock cliffs, mantled in green, and descended to a single runway that parted the rich rain forests of Hana. 

It is good to be back in Hana, the setting of my novel Hana-lani. It is summer here, the temperatures slightly higher than winter, the humidity weighing softly against my skin. The hotel greeted us with juice and cold cloths and soon we were riding in a cart, bouncing along the winding path through grassy gardens toward the sea. I climbed the stairs of our cottage, entered, crossed to the back veranda fenced with wire and green posts, a nod to the ranch hands’ cottages in the past. Once this hotel had been part of Hana Ranch. Today it is called Hotel Travaasa, owned and given new life by an investment group from Denver.

From the veranda I looked out over the swathe of freshly mowed grass to palms and foliage bordering the shore, and beyond to the crashing sea. The sound of the sea rushing and pounding reflected my heartbeat, as though the sea and I shared the same pulse. The rise and fall of the waves, their gentle rearing to reveal their opalescent underbellies, their bubbling white froth donned like like a lacy lei, their final fall onto the shore, their orchestral movement of sight and sound, mirrored my own ebb and flow, my own movement of body and soul, my own life blood.

It is as though my sixty-six years rolled with the waters, as though I sailed on an ark of time. But even before my sixty-six years, I sailed in my mother’s womb for nine months as my father pastored his first church in Fresno. The heat was suffocating that summer, my mother says, and I believe her. Fresno sits in California’s great agricultural basin, summers are warm, and in 1947 there was no air-conditioning.

My mother was twenty-seven, young and beautiful. Photos show a Queen Elizabeth twin, brunette curls, regular features, broad smile, slim build. She was at the time an enthusiastic Christian, with a Masters in Christian Education from Biblical Seminary in New York. When I was born, and the doctor announced I was a girl, she cried out “Another girl for the mission field!” Some thought she was delirious, since I was the first-born.

My sixty-six years have been, like most folks’ time on this earth, marked with tragedy and triumph, grief and joy, hard times and good times. Through it all, except for a few wayward college years, I have belonged to God and God has belonged to me.

Those college years were, as I look back, difficult ones, dry ones, years of drifting and despair. But finally I returned to the one who makes sense of our lives, our loves, our wrong turns. I am today grateful for that return to belief at the age of twenty, for the grace to believe, thankful to C. S. Lewis for his Mere Christianity, giving me the tools of a reasonable faith.

And so it is also with supreme gratitude to God that my recent novel about the nature of reasonable faith, what is true and what isn’t, what happened that first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene saw the risen Christ, is now published, my characters free to breathe deeply their first breaths, traveling up from each page.

There is a “leap” of faith, I believe, usually made in all belief, but this leap is more of a baby step. It is merely, simply, an openness to God’s grace working inside. Once I took that baby step, once I opened my mind, heart, and soul, redemption was allowed and I could see. And of course, sanctification continues with each minute, hour, day, week, month, year, with each sacrament and prayer…. until we step into the other world that is the real world, our earthly world a merely pale reflection.

We see, as St. Paul says, through a glass darkly. But we see a clearer vision of God in the Jesus of history. 

On my birthday, I am thankful for all of this.

(PS: Posted from the hotel library, the only place to get an Internet signal…)