Visiting three islands of Hawaii (Oahu, The Big Island, and Maui) leaves one with a mixed
sense of how the sacred rhythms are honored in this historic place.
On Oahu, my visit to Pearl Harbor was tranquil and sobering. Realizing that 1,177 sailors
and marines lay entombed below the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial humbles you at the
sacrifices endured by so many families. Yet it is jarring to see how much capitalism has
enabled profit-making to thrive in the midst of the tragedy. So many people making
money off of Americans’ (and others’) desire to visit the sacred place leaves you feeling a
bit chagrined at the pure targeting of dollars.
At the summit (13,805 feet high) of the Mauna kea Volcano crater on The Big Island one
finds the world’s strongest telescopes powering out into the wide expanse of the universe
to help us understand our place in the cosmos. There is an eerie quiet as the sun
descends and the temperatures drop and all on the summit are silent as the stars
suddenly flash across the night sky.
At Haleakala (10, 023 feet high) on Maui as masses huddle to enjoy a sunrise there is a
sacred silence as the heavily clothed figures assemble in the dark, in the cold. We are
shades when we first arrive, but as the sun starts to break through the clouds, each of us
becomes transformed by the touch of energy, into a breathing, unique essence of
humanity, assembled to witness the magic that is light. Once the sun rises, for the
briefest moment, we bathe together in unison in the light. No one moves, still, taking in
the light. Then, just as quickly, each figure treks away like atoms shooting out from some