Saturday, August 14, 2021

Hawaii Will Have to Wait (Again)

Until a few years ago I thought going to Hawaii annually was crazy. Who needs it? And how do you justify the cost? Then I realized that coping with Becky's passing was going to require more than pouring myself into my work. I needed something that was fun, relaxing, and a break from the routine of my everyday life. I needed a vacation. There is nothing, nothing, like being at the beach. It's a well-documented fact that "beach therapy" works to reduce stress and boost your mood. Who wouldn't benefit from a little "Vitamin Sea"?

In case you didn't know, Kailua, Hawaii is home for me. 


I say that knowing full well that I am only a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. But we still have roots. I sensed this from the day I set foot on Kailua Beach a month after Becky's death. Roughly one third of all adults have made such a trip. I visited the schools I attended, the beaches I surfed at, the church I attended, the playgrounds I played basketball and volleyball at, the mountains I climbed. I was surprised by the depth of emotion I felt for my childhood home.

For the past several years I've returned home every August. 


But I had to cancel my trip last year, and this year my tickets were purchased and I was planning to be in Kailua this week. But it's still not a good time to be flying, and Hawaii's pandemic restrictions are still in place. Maybe next year.

Each of my trips to Oahu has allowed me to get back in touch with important parts of my past and to revisit vital lessons about life that I learned as a child and teenager. 


We built our home in Kailua in 1955.

In a piece called Your Hometown: Going Back to Move Forward, author James Martin writes, "I've come to accept that returning to my personal ground zero has helped me live a richer, fuller life. Going back to my home has helped me move forward." On one of my trips I couldn't wait to give a copy of It's All Greek to Me: Confessions of an Unlikely Academic to the principal of the high school I used to attend. I told her, "I just wanted you to know what Kailua High School meant to me and the role my teachers played in me becoming a professor." On another trip, I started a Greek class at a local church. 

The blurriest photo you've ever seen.

Kevin Akana, host pastor.

I think the best part about being in Hawaii is the beach. The sounds and visuals of the ocean are simply so soothing and peaceful. You can stay on the shore and read. 



You can jet ski.


You can paddle with your buddies at the Windward Kai Canoe Club.


Or you can go out and surf or body surf. 


One of my fondest memories of these trips is standing in the pouring rain and loving every minute of it. As I get older, such simple pleasures mean more and more to me. It's when I'm surrounded by the beauty of God's creation that I feel most at peace.

I am now staring at a new semester that begins next Thursday. I honestly don't think I've been more excited to be back in the classroom. I may not have been able to get back to my home in Hawaii this month, but I feel refreshed and ready to go. If you can't get to the beach, a quiet and secluded farm does just fine, thank you Lord. Last week a group of elders retreated here. Another group will be coming soon. As you can see, getting away has endless benefits. 

But nothing can match home.