My first time in Hana, on the wet side of Maui, I felt I’d arrived home. The flowers, the moist air, the warm wind all conspired to welcome me in a way that I’d not known before – at least not in this lifetime because I’d never been to Hawaii. But, that feeling of being home? Unmistakable.
As a child, I was told too many times to count that I looked like an islander. I would tan in just hours, loved bright, big-tropical-flowered fabric, and ate fruit, almost exclusively. Looking back, something in me knew this island world.
Eventually, I would return to Hana by myself to really sink into the land, literally, as I walked up the wet side of Haleakala barefoot through the mud after an intense rain storm. It was during this sultry storm that I swam in the warm water while every inch of me welcomed the wet. Between the warm rain and warm ocean water, every inch of me was soaked in the sensual aliveness of the land.
On my first visit to Molokai just a year later, I had a particular experience with the elements. A group of about twelve of us was traveling from the retreat site to the eastern wet side of the island. We were headed there to swim and relax. We were in two cars, and at one point the lead car pulled off the road and drove a ways out toward the ocean. We followed, and I came to see that we were at the foot of a long pier made of island rock. Most of us got out of the cars to take a look, and one woman explained that this was Kamala Wharf, an old, no longer in use, pier. As I looked out toward the water and the old long pier that is now mostly just old concrete and rocks, I felt a sudden surge of energy and an absolutely undeniable desire to take off running. I felt it and started running almost simultaneously. I ran fast and hard all the way to the end of the pier. When I got there, I climbed up onto a big old slab of concrete that was situated on top of the rocks at the end. I turned around to look at my friends, and found that four other women had followed me out there, and soon they joined me up on the concrete slab.
What followed was amazing. I stood in the air stream, which was whipping like crazy, and surveyed the scene across the water. In front of me to my left was Maui. And, to my right was Lanai. The water all around me was laid out in patches of many different colors of blue and green, from dark to light depending on the depth of the water and how the light was hitting it. But what was so amazing was the wind. It was whipping all around me in what felt like currents that, if you could have seen them with your eyes, must have looked like the brushwork depicting the sky in Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. It was swirling and lifting, and of course it danced with the water as well as my hair. It was strong enough to push my entire body around. And, it was completely invigorating, absolutely enlivening. I felt completely alive. I will never forget the joy that was present in that aliveness.
My own wild self was meeting the wildness of mama earth, and the wildness of spirit. There was nothing toned down about this moment, nor about how I felt.
Something in me knew I had to put my feet on that concrete, had to feel that vibrancy in my face and hair, and had to remember that that same vibrancy is spirit, is soul, is life.
The second time I landed on Molokai, it was to spend ten days as part of a “working” vacation. As I climbed down from the small plane that had flown us from Maui to Molokai, and my feet hit the bright red dirt, I felt the knowing of home and the remembered connection between my body and the land.
Over these workdays, one of my jobs was to tend the orchard in the morning hours. The orchard consisted of avocados, oranges, lemons, limes, and other various fruit. In going through the orchard each day, and feeling for ripe fruit, I learned a lot about nature and ripeness. I learned to feel how tightly the tree was still holding the fruit. Sometimes, fruit had fallen during the night. But other times, some fruit would look ripe but would be firmly connected to the tree, while other pieces would not look ripe but would be barely connected to the tree, ready to fall to the earth. In learning to feel this connection between fruit and tree, I learned to more deeply feel my own ability to birth fruit, to know when something was ripe within me, to honor the cycles of life and to trust that everything would come in due time.