So we arrived in Kona last night, after a mostly lovely (with a few tense moments mixed in) day of travel. I know that sounds strange, considering the fact that we were traveling with two small children and that the flight was nine and a half hours long (just to Honolulu) followed by a half hour flight to Kona, but it's true.
We left at about seven am, after a herculean effort to get our life in order. Even the ride to the airport felt peaceful, because finally we didn't actually have to do anything. After months of packing, preparation and decisions, it was near bliss to just sit there in the car. But there was a worry nagging at the back of our minds: Although the parish had offered to buy a seat for Natalie, it seemed excessive, because she could, technically, ride on my lap.
The idea of Natalie squirming on my lap for nearly ten hours was getting less and less appealing as we approached O'Hare. We had tried to call United's call center to request a baby block, but we'd been routed to a call center in India (sigh). But when we finally got on the flight, we were shocked to discover that Natalie and I had the whole five center seats to ourselves! I spent the duration of the flight rejoicing over that surprising and lovely twist of plot.
When we arrived in Honolulu, we were struck by the friendliness of everyone there, and the fact that our kids could run around and play without me barking warnings every few moments. The adults flirted with our kids and I felt as if some the tension I've been carrying for so long was starting to work its way out. "Perhaps I won't have to wear my mouth guard anymore!" I told John, giddy at the idea that I might be able to stop grinding my poor teeth.
At the airport, I called my neighbor Marji and she reported that there was fresh snow in Chicago--six inches, in fact. How strange it was that we'd left when it was so clear and had no idea that later that day, other planes sat on the tarmack for six miserable hours. What a gift to have escaped the storm.
And then last night, when we arrived in Kona, members of the parish were there with leis to greet us--even little Natalie got a tiny purple one. Mine was so aromatic that this morning I can't stop smelling it--it is not unlike that wonderful paradise smell that some holy relics emit--I imagine heaven must smell something like it.
And then we arrived at our new home, which is lovely. To our astonishment, there was a welcome basket full of tropical fruit complete with Anna's favorite breakfast cereal. On the counter was a Bose radio, playing soft Hawaiian music, which was identical to my beloved Bose at home, and oddly, the dishwasher is exactly the same as ours on Kenwood, as well as the blue booster for Natalie--not to mention the garage door opener which is, oddly, the exact same one we use in Chicago. On Anna's bed was a brand new Strawberry Shortcake doll and a little airplane for Natalie. All this familiarity makes us feel a little more at home--and a whole lot less alone--here on the most isolated island chain in the world.
And last night, as I drifted off to sleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, I remembered my earlier fear of the ocean. We are very close, much closer than I meant to be, as a person who doesn't totally trust the sea. So I said to Jesus, "Dear Lord, you wouldn't have brought us all the way here just to wash out to sea as we slept? That just be so, um, inefficient."
And I said this against the rhythm of those waves, which never did answer me, but in the morning we woke when it was still dark, and we were still here, in the loving presence of God, surrounded by so much evidence of his tender care. We sipped Kona coffee together, John and I, and remembered that first time we were Hawaii, 13 years ago, when we found each other and first decided to take the adventure that came to us.
Just this morning, I picked up Fr. John's Bible and a card fell out. The last time we were in Hawaii, just beginning to know each other, I'd jotted down this passage for him from the Song of Soloman, Chapter 2: My Beloved spake and said onto me, 'Rise up my fair one, and come away, for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs. Arise my Love, my fair one, and come away.'"
Posted by Jenny at 8:17:00 AM