song. It was always a song I enjoyed, but not one that that could be considered
a dating manual, nor did it contain any hopeful teleological arc. I never
thought it helped define my, or any human-beings’ gradual and sure
across the U.S., Canada and India from 1978-1979, when I was part of a music
and mission team. I used to play guitar and sing that song a lot! It brought me
a sense of comfort and connectedness, even though the lyrics move to a gradual
ocean as a birthday gift to me. I am amazed, and I am grateful for their
generous gift. I am also happy for the two days of bliss that hanging-out near
the ocean can bring and content to have shared that time.
swimming hole, ate food and told stories. We were beneficiaries of laughter,
community, sunset, chickens, a full moon spirit and the strong, steady sound of
water crashing over lava rock.
Pacific, at a place officially known as Keoneele Cove. Most people here call it
two-step. It’s a popular place for diving, snorkeling, swimming and hanging
out. The two-step beach though is not what most people imagine as the perfect Hawaiian
beach, with wide expanses of white sand and a long, shallow, sloping shoreline.
few small patches of sand where sunbathers can place their towels. Here, the bottom
slopes down and away from the shoreline. It quickly gets deep. Filled with
colorful fish and underwater arches, it’s perfect for learning about marine
life. I’ve seen sharks, rays, eels, colorful crustacean creatures and all
manner of Hawaiian fish here. It’s a special place, where the ocean is a garden
and a grave at the same time, as with the land which surrounds it.
National Historical Park called Pu’uhonua o Honaunau. It’s also called the
“Place of Refuge.” In the past, the place of refuge meant asylum for a person
fleeing the King’s justice. Perhaps the fleeing laborers had broken kapu (the
customs) and were under the King’s threat of death or severe punishment. If the
lawbreaker(s) could make it here though, they were spared punishment until their
sentence was complete. The park holds many important artifacts, including one
visible from two-step; a thatched structure which was originally a mausoleum, containing
the bones of chiefs.
coast situated between Keoneele Cove and Kealakekula Bay, framed by lava rock
and brush, is the area known as the Moku’ohai Battlefield. It’s not very accessible, and that’s probably
good, for there the warriors rest.
shore, is the outpost for the Keauhou Paddling Club. A few months ago, Debbie
and I met BJ, the elder Hawaiian landowner. He watches over the outriggers and
every day, sits on a small lava rock hill overlooking the swimming hole. He
stares out to the ocean, almost as if he is in trance, his long white beard
rises and falls like a sail in the Kona winds.
Hawaiian people sitting near the shore, looking out to the ocean in deep
meditation. It seems as if the object of
their vision is beyond mine, perhaps beyond anything visible.
on the conscious level, it does not translate here. But there is something
about these black rocks at water’s edge, something in the blue water that is
not lost on me: it may be the angle of the honu’s fin as it swims past, it may
be the smell of the ocean breeze, the rhythm of the ocean’s swell or the call
of song birds.
sit where he sits, and at the same time, be surrounded by his ancestors’ bones.
They lie all around him in the sparse green areas scattered among the black
rocks. We swim here, surrounded by graves on all sides. But it’s also a place
of refuge and healing for the living.
diving, for the ethic, for its historical significance. The ethic is pure and
amoral, informed by 2,000 miles of ocean in every direction. The Pacific’s law
is simple and clear: eat or be eaten. It’s not that this ethic governs humans
or their actions on the island, that would be more than we could handle, but in
this ocean ethic is a lesson of a purity that serves to teach the following: be
here, now. Time slows here, everything peripheral matters less, everything
essential matters more.
remember that my story includes 59 winters. The Korean’s would tell me I’ve
seen 60 winters … that first one was a doozy, I’m sure. I don’t remember it, I
was tucked in and smaller than a sea urchin.
over the rocks to the Pacific, I was playing guitar and singing – for maybe the
two-hundredth time – that song from Captured
Angel, Dan Fogelberg’s album of September, 1975.
when we had to turn the album over to hear the second side), is called “The
Last Nail.” It’s about the last nail which closed the coffin on a relationship.
The songwriter finally realized it was over, for she had taken on a husband and
child and was living in Pennsylvania. Nail in the coffin, songwriter moves on.
gardens and graves/ I watched you grow to be a woman/ living on promises that
nobody gave to no one/ they were given to no one.”
then, when a line, carried in your own bones over two oceans, across three
countries and three decades becomes organic. Right in front of me, I saw
beauteous Hawaiian gardens growing over the graves. I was sitting in the middle
of gardens and graves. I had sung it in India, in Canada, in Wisconsin and
Michigan, in the Dakota’s and on Long Island, but it was different this time.
but this time … I sang it a little more slowly and it sank a little more deeply
and I watched my friends slow down a little more completely and I felt a little
more centrally that yes, the periphery is here, in this place of deep slowness and
death. But here too, this place provides moments of life, rest and healing.
Soon, I will go to two-step and once again gently splash into the deep blue. Here, I am fully in the gardens and graves. I am in that song, and with that dear
songwriter whose ashes are scattered in Maine.
the laboratory, not in the pub where we find our rest and healing; it’s where
the gardens and graves meet. Volcano behind, ocean ahead, moon above, gardens
and graves around. I sing, but this time, I sing it a little more slowly.
Richard, Curt, Kona, Mark, David, Mike; Debbie, Monica, Pam, Serena, Chee,