For ten days in Kauai, I basked in the glow of a loving community, and there were moments of absolute hilarity. When I met Philly’s sister for the first time the night before the wedding, she related her mother’s description of Elaine and me after our first meeting. Her mother said, “I’m not sure I can find the words, but did you ever see the movie Meet the Fockers?”
There were moments of panic: one son-in-law fell out the back of an open pick-up truck, sustained a head injury and was air-evac’d to Honolulu. Fortunately they didn’t have to operate, and he is recovering.
There were moments of tingling spiritual aliveness. I visited the sacred caves in Maha’ ulepu, where the noted Kahuna, Kapaka, saw healing visions in the billowing smoke of the fire he lit inside it. His remains are buried in this cave; I sang an honoring song and felt its reverberating hum in its ancient walls. I parked at Ke’e beach, where the famed Kalalau trail begins. It’s an eleven-mile, three-day trip if you want to see these gorgeous tropical jungles, valleys, and beaches on the exquisite Napali coast. I walked the first couple of miles intoxicated by the sweet fragrance of the rain forest, and watched dolphins leap in synchronous ballet while eating lunch.
When I returned to Ke’e beach, I swam with turtles. One came so close to me that I could look at it eye to eye. We hung on to each other; it spoke to me and said, “Don’t be afraid, we are blessed.”
We celebrated the Jewish New Year on a porch overlooking Hanalei Bay and Puff, the Magic Dragon. I listened to the Shofar blow its awesome rallying calls and said Mahalo (thank you). “Thank you for all that has been showered upon me, I am blessed, we are blessed.”
We left on a Sunday, ten days later, and on our way to the airport my wife threw our leis into the ocean. A Hawaiian good luck tradition. At the airport I indulged my addiction to the New York Times and was immediately sorry. Fourteen high-profile terrorists, previously secretly incarcerated in foreign prisons, were being moved to Guantanamo. The same paper reported that a Senate Intelligence Committee report had concluded Saddam Hussein not only didn’t have weapons of mass destruction or the capacity to produce them, but he was also distrustful of Al Qaeda and not an ally of the terrorist group. The committee issued a stark assessment of terrorism trends saying that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped create a generation of Islamic radicals, and the overall terrorist threat has actually grown since 9/11. From turtle eyes to the Bush Administration’s lies, I was transported in an instant into an angry, fearful, unhappy soul moved from a mentality of Mahalo to Guantanamo.
I’m moving back to Mahalo though. Today is the Day of Atonement in my tribe. We take a time out and breathe in the holy sounds of the ram’s horn and those of meditative silence. Take a break from the ordinary ways of seeing and move from sCared to saCred, (which is just another way of “C”ing).
We must move beyond the lies to see through turtle eyes.