O the miracle of modern technology – I am flying from Honolulu to Vancouver, and for a mere $6.50 I had a tiny bottle of red wine and for a mere $7.99 have unlimited internet and all is well with the world. I have a whole row to myself, my feet are up and through headphones I am listening to Jake Shimabukuro, my new hero, play Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I second that. Hallelujah. (Jake just said, in the YouTube clip I watched, “I love being a ukelele player, because audiences around the world have such low expectations.”)
This morning, Penny and I went to the Church of the Crossroads with Harriet. I found it moving, very warm – literally and figuratively, as everyone was very friendly but also, of course, the walls were open and tropical breezes stirred the air. Some of the kids there were barefoot, and one of the new members is now a woman but was not at one time, and glamorous she is too. The minister said to us all, “Your presence here means everything. We belong together. We matter to God so we matter to each other.” What a profoundly comforting thought. Though I am not a believer, I was happy to be with this kind, open group of people, singing hymns and sharing thoughts. And then – lunch, a huge hot meal, completely unexpected and very good. I took a picture of Harriet and Penny beside the massive banyon tree in the courtyard.
They drove me to the airport, fond farewells to an old friend and a new friend, and into the maw of the people moving machine. But this airport is different – many walls, like in Harriet’s church, are open to the air, and there’s a gorgeous courtyard in the centre with birds and ducks swimming in the pond – in an airport!
That’s the airport!
A few final notes on Hawaii, as I head back to Winterland: Last night at the concert, when the announcer, who spoke in Hawaiian, Japanese and English, said “Aloha,” everyone in the audience shouted “Aloha!” back. It is a very valuable word. And people actually do wear Hawaiian shirts – the more bright flowers splashed across your body, be you male or female, the better.
Volleyball is big here – all sports are – but women’s volleyball here is bigger than men’s and the games are transmitted over both radio and TV. I know because Harriet is a big fan.
A mai tai is made of fresh pineapple and orange juice, orange curaçao, Bacardi, orgeat and whaler’s dark rum. And it is very good indeed.
Penny and I were introduced by Harriet at the service this morning, and later, among others who spoke of worries and blessings, I stood to speak. I said I was heading back to winter and that the beautiful islands of Hawaii, and the welcoming, generous people who live on them, would stay with me forever. And they will.