Hawaii Nei

There are such things as thin places, especially in the ethos of those of us who have been fed by some of the traditions and prayers of Celtic Christianity as it has come to us through some parts of the Anglican tradition.  Those ancient thin places tended to be associated with rocks, or groves of trees, or certain springs that had some connection with the pagan gods of former times.  So a rational and perhaps cynical mind might wonder if they are more the stuff of fairy tales and maybe even a bit heretical for a believing Christian.  I wouldn’t know about that, I only know about my own thin places, and they have nothing to do with Ireland, Scotland or Wales.  They do have to do with places filled with the memories and holy places of pagan gods.

Right now we are on our annual vacation in Hawaii.  We’ve been coming to one or more of the islands once, or even twice, a year for twenty-five years.  But my own first time was in 1968 on, of all things, a business trip.  Like most first time visitors, I was mesmerized by the aroma of the breezes and beauty of the land and sea, but there was something more.  It was the inexplicable feeling that my heart and soul had come to their place of physical, emotional and spiritual refreshment and renewal.  In all the years that have passed, that sense has never waned but only grown stronger.  There is something compelling in the history, culture, myths, land and sea that meld synergistically into moment after moment of thin places for me. 

That’s not to say that we have not experienced more than a few really bad worship services in places where God was proclaimed but the Spirit was most definitely absent, or that we have not been caught up in all the touristy things that other tourists get caught up in.  After all, in the end we are only tourists.  Moreover, one ought not to romanticize Hawaii too much.  There is a deep sadness and much tragedy in the history of these islands, not the least of which was the coup d’etat of 1898 when the rightful monarch was overthrown by business interests who then engineered a transfer of the kingdom to the U.S.

All of that is beside the point.  There is just a lot of “mana” around, some good and some bad, but the power and presence of God’s benevolent love overwhelms them all.  Gentle breezes, fierce winds, glass smooth seas and raging storms, blustering volcanoes, barren desserts, soggy rain forests, beaches, mountains, warm and cold all live in tension filled harmony.  They all combine to embrace me with a sense of the totality of God’s creation.

Some have asked why we don’t move here.  I don’t think that would work.  I don’t think you can live in your place of refreshment.  It needs to be a place you visit.  At least that’s the way I see it. 

6 thoughts on “Hawaii Nei”

  1. I definitely agree that there are just some places that are \’thin\’ that give us glimpses of the Bigger Reality, glimpses that are beautiful and almost chilling in their majesty. But I don\’t think they necessarily have to be foreign or removed from our day-to-day life for us to see them. Back in Idaho I live near one. Our pasture is one of those places. The tree in the corner marks the spot. Looking up at the clear night sky or up at Taylor Mountain fills me with a sense of tremendous awe and the abiding love of God.Now that I\’m thinking about it, though, it could also be that necessary conditions must be met for it to be \”thin.\” The sky needs to be with some openings in the clouds, and the wind must be blowing. The windier the better. And it must be later in the day or at night. It could be that the place has become \’thin\’ because of the combination of the wind going as the Spirit wills and of its hallowing by my continued prayers there. For years I would go to that part of the pasture and wander around, thinking, praying and meditating. Perhaps these places are not in themselves thin but are made thin by the reaching out to the Holy? That by the prayers of people (and perhaps creation itself) land begins to reach up and out to God? I don\’t know for certain, but God created the Earth and called it good. God loves us, and God loves all of creation; why shouldn\’t nature have a place to draw closer to God?

  2. I have two places as such, one is the Islands, the other is Aspiran. Two very different thin places. Hawaii is a place of refreshment and being touched by the way the early inhabitants experienced the divine, not at all romantic. The other is Aspiran France. Hawaii comes easy, warm, soft on the soul. Aspiran comes much less easy, it is the struggle of the ancient celt and early christianity. The house I lived in was built in 1270, and it was here I experienced the life of the saints. One morning when I went to the window to open them and to look out at the rising sun, I inadvertently stood in two depressions near the window that my feet fit into, like a wonderful pair of comfortable slippers. I found an other pair of shoes to wear near the fireplace that was once the cooking place. These were much smaller with a narrower stance. Over my time there I found many more connections and my life changed in a way I could never have imagined. I long to go back and take my place there, but I feel it is not to be. Or, I fear, I will not be able to live up to the call that is there for me. It is in this last feeling that I understand the courage of those who accept their call, and face my inadequacy in such matters of the spirit. I am using your descriptions of your place in Hawaii , and I am smelling the breeze, tasting the fruit and the seafood, feeling the softness of the air (it does feel different) and through your writing and experiencing you are giving me too, a refreshment of soul. Thank you.

  3. I do agree with your feeling that it is best to save Hawaii for the magical getaway place that it has meant to you, and not to let it become just a place that you live all the time. And a Happy Valentines Day to you both. Dr B

  4. whenever i am in quiet meditation and asked to consider a place that feels like \”home\”, i almost without exception am transported to a beach in a tiny village in mexico. it is a place where the veil is quite thin for me.the only thing that would have made this post better would be a picture. i bet your wife could show you how to post one 🙂

  5. Such beautiful comments you have received on this post….your readers seem comfortable and perhaps lifted by your descriptions – I know I am and I\’m right here in the middle of it! Aloha

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