Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hawaii, ten years on.

This past Friday I celebrated my tenth year in Hawaii. Man has the time gone fast, and it just seems like yesterday since I arrived! Now I am officially "kamaina" which means "local person" in Hawaiian. Yet looking back the move was bittersweet. I was happy in New Jersey so coming here, and pulling up my roots  was a big deal. I left a very comfortable job which I enjoyed and felt good at doing. I left many friends and a position I had spent building and developing for ten years. Even so, when my wife showed me the three options she had for her next assignment in the military, she let me pick. One said Hawaii and I forgot the other two. It was a no-brainer, it had to be Hawaii. And looking back, coming to Hawaii has been one of the best decisions we ever made. I had my moments though. I remember coming over on the plane and thinking, "wow, I have to start my life over again".

Hawaii was, and is, an adventure. It's a fantastic place to live. As in any new place, the first few years were spent " getting to know" just where everything is. Even though Oahu is a small island, there are still many places I have not yet explored. Getting around is sometimes a challange as many of the names of streets and towns still have Hawaiian names. Moreover, Oahu is a unique mix of different ethnic communities including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Samoan, Micronesian and of course Hawaiian. It's a multicultural paradise. I've lived in several countries and States, but coming to Hawaii is unlike anything else I had ever experienced. I often have to pinch myself to remind me that "yes" this is the USA and that I am living and working here. You can often go into local restaurants and be the only one who speaks English.

Looking back, I have often thought back to the Irish notion of peregrini, the Latin term for pilgrim. The notion of pilgrimage is often left out of our understanding of Christianity. Yet for many today, and in the past, peregrini was and is a core concept. It's useful to reflect on leaving what we are familiar and comfortable with in order to grow spirituality. This practice was at the heart of Celtic spirituality, as particularly noted in the life of Columba, who left Ireland and went onto to found the monastic settlement on the remote Scottish island of Iona. Columba went onto achieve great things on Iona, and later  at the community on Lindisfarne. Columba never returned to Ireland yet his legacy was great. I have often thought of those wandering Celtic monks, who left their families, towns, and home country, and trekked across Europe, founding monasteries, touching lives, hearing and learning new languages. It must have been exciting (even in an addictive way) to wander as they did.

Looking back over the last ten years, I think it's helpful to recall that I too am on pilgrimage. And like Columba, I am invited to leave the known, journey into the unknown, which often includes my own "shadow" self. Along the way, I have learned to let go of certain expectation I might have, and to live in the moment, and to embrace whatever life brings. Life, and the spiritual life can be a wonderful adventure. May God lead you to a place or situation where you never imagined you could be.

1 comment:

  1. And often, as you say, those 'moves' are not only unwanted, but they are unavoidable. In the case of Columba, although we know little about him, it would seem that he had no choice but to leave Ireland, yet God purposed it for the good of Scotland as well as northern England. I am reminded of the persecution that broke out against the church after the martrydom of Stephen. The believers were scattered 'throughout Judea and Samaria' and must have felt both terrified and bereft, yet God purposed it for his kingdom's good, for 'those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went' (Acts 8). Bless you, Andy, for being faithful and for going where God was calling, even though it is to a place where you never imagined you would be! Louis