The mom feels like she is in a dream. Just hours before she was a crazy person immersed in end-of-school chaos. Now she is calm and relaxed – and completely mesmerized by the fairyland around her. If only it was possible to feel like this all of the time . . .
For several years my family has hoped to get to Hawaii, a place that feels simultaneously familiar and also the like the ends of the earth. My husband – who loves nothing more than planning his next wanderlust fix – worked tirelessly to craft an amazing experience for our family and it did not disappoint. I learned many lessons there that I hope will continue to nourish me like inspired souvenirs:
Beauty Rest. Nothing soothes the soul more than the beauty found in nature, and I think sometimes those miraculous sights are easy to miss in the city. Experiences like coming face to face with a turtle in the turquoise ocean, or encountering black sandy beaches lined with lime green lushness, or braking so a herd of deer may gallop across your path, or sunsets that look like someone lit the sky on fire all sparked constant wonderment and appreciation. And guess what? Folks in Hawaii seem to have figured out how to live in a way that honors the earth around them. We saw magnificent windmills, bright white against the blue sky, and impressive solar panels that capped buildings and homes everywhere we went. Theirs was a collaboration with nature, and it was beautiful, too.
Free Range Everything. You have heard of free-range chickens, but you wouldn’t believe the manifestation of this idea in Hawaii. They are everywhere. I mean, walking across the yard, on the beach, strutting beside the road. You may see a momma parading around with her baby chicks. The chicken is free to go as it pleases, and it is not the only one. All beaches in Hawaii are public, and anyone may enjoy the beach anywhere. This openness seemed to translate in a collective investment in taking care of these amazing spots, and a general feeling of hospitality and accommodation. Free-range people are pretty happy, as it turns out.
Just Drop It. When in Kauai we passed signs for Anini Beach and my husband mentioned that at one time it was called Wanini Beach but the first letter fell off of the sign . . . so they just changed the name. Think about that for a minute and then apply it to everything in your life. I subsequently read that the letter was lost because someone shot it off the sign. Even better.
Rainbow Connection. One evening we took a boat ride around the Napali coast on the island of Kauai. Suddenly our captain directed us to look to the shore – and there was a stunning rainbow. We traveled a bit further . . . and then there was another. Finally as we made our way back yet another incredible rainbow appeared that seemed to end on the water beside our boat and follow us on our journey. It was like nothing I have ever seen. You know what the rainbow means? our captain asked, but did not offer an answer his question. The promise of God’s covenant, I thought automatically.
As surreal as that experience was, it was even more so to open my laptop once back in our room that evening and see . . . rainbows everywhere. All over social media, all over the news – because there had been a terrible shooting in Orlando – and suddenly the brokenness of the world came crashing in on my paradise found. But even in my sadness and shock I found those many virtual rainbows beautiful, too. Because they meant bigotry and violence did not have the last word; they said: We love you, and you are not alone.
When I arrived in Hawaii, I came to understand that the famous greeting Aloha meant more than just hello and goodbye – it embodied a way of life that embraced a gentle kindness, community, and love. This trip was meaningful because beauty permeated my experience – starting with my surreal surroundings and culminating in the people I encountered. I may have heard Aloha many times on this vacation, but the truth is, a Hawaiian word I heard more is the one I am inspired to say now: Mahalo . . . with thanks and gratitude.
Want to get a better handle on being in a state of aloha and mahalo? Check out these beautiful images while listening to the iconic Hawaiian medley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World by the beloved Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole.
Bess Kercher explores the reality of motherhood in her blog "A Few Good Moms...Can You Handle the Truth?" Bess lives in Charlotte with her husband and two sons. You can read more of her writing at www.maemucho.com.