the healing island

Photo by Amber

I got a Valentine's Day pedicure: my nails are deep red with a rhinestone heart. Perhaps you're cringing at this description, as I certainly would if I was back on the mainland, but celebratory toes seem to make sense in this context, as do those crazy Hawaiian shirts, sea turtle decals, and hair clips adorned with plastic plumeria.

At the nail salon, I saw television coverage of the school shootings outside of Chicago. My heart broke as I heard the students talk about what they saw and experienced, and then, on the bottom of the screen I saw an additional news update. Did you know that there is a bus-sized satellite that has fallen out of orbit and is on a crash course with the earth? The U.S. is planning to shoot it down, apparently, because it also happens to be full of toxic chemicals.

So I was watching this school shooting with horror, and contemplating the likelihood that the satellite will land in the Pacific and cause a tsunami on the Kona coast, as a kind Korean woman gingerly applied rhinestones to my big toe. She said, "Be careful of these rhinestones. Sometimes they fall off."

I just nodded at her at the strangeness of it all, the impossibility of worrying about rhinestones, all things considered. And then on the way home, we saw two whales in the ocean. I have not seen whales since the day Amber and Charles married. So there seemed to me something cosmic in this as well. If nothing else it was a chance to reawaken to wonder despite all the horrors of our world.

We watched the whales with Anna and Natalie, and I thought about the school shootings and I wondered if I'd spent enough time that day kicking around with my kids, playing with them in the way they crave, awake to their fleeting beauty.

That night we dined with Fr. John's close friends who live two hours away on the other side of the island, but just happened to have chosen the same restaurant as we did, Sushi Shino, and planned to dine at the same time. So we sipped warm saki out of tiny ceramic cups and shared large platters of sushi and wondered why, if the U.S. is planning to take this renegade satellite out, they haven't gotten around to it yet?

It seems these kinds of coincidences happen a lot here in Hawaii. I'm always bumping into people I know and being helped by strangers in all sorts of surprising ways. Just the other day I walked a mile on a lava field to the beach, but realized that I couldn't make it all the way back in the blazing sun with Natalie on my back. I started walking and praying for a safe person to stop and offer a ride.

After a few cars passed a big white truck slowed, and the driver called out to me. I turned around and she was waving Natalie's hat, which had fallen off several bends back, but I hadn't noticed. Anyone who would rescue a baby's hat and search for the owner seemed like a safe enough bet.

So I could call these things coincidences or providence or chance, but whatever they are, I find them reassuring, especially as I struggle to get my bearings in this new setting. When I told someone from our church about our Valentine's Day coincidence and how these things seem to happen more often here, He said, "If you asked a Hawaiian priest about that, he would tell you that that is because this island is the newest land in the world, and the spirit of the Creator still hovers close."

Sometimes I think I know just what he means.


Molly Sabourin said...

Hey Jenny,

It is so good to see a post from you again! I loved all of it, of course. The thought of you drinking Saki, hitching rides, and getting rhinestone encrusted pedicures makes me smile and feel oddly hopeful. The sound of you working through fear by way of faith gives me courage to do the same. Take care out there!


Julia said...

Awe, Jenny. This is great. You are like me-- trying to reconcile rhinestones and the news. It's just too much for anyone to figure out, but let's promise each other that we'll keep trying. I need your company.

Anonymous said...

At first sight of "the healing island" post I thought - OSTROV! (another 'healing island'). . .
Then back to YOUR 'healing island' complete with a Valentine pedicure! :) I'm jealous, not really, but your report (NIU, rogue satelite) at that spot made me realize how we really are not that far apart after all.
Love you muchly,

marji said...

I love all your theme of coincidences. You'll see why when you read my post. miss you!

Ser said...

I love this post, Jenny. It is so beautifully written, first of all, but also it makes me feel less crazy that, every day, I seem to feel both great joy and deep despair at this world around me. And also at these kids around me.

Miss you!