Monday, December 19, 2005

Spiritual Moments...and a Dose of Reality

12/6/05 – 4:25 PM

After I finished writing this morning, I grabbed another cup of coffee and went outside, intending to just sit at the picnic table and wait for sunrise. But somehow, I ended up at the bench on the bluff overlooking the beach. I sat there and watched the lights on the shoreline to the south. Within five minutes the shoreline became more distinct and the dark gray of the ocean turned to pewter. Finally, I started hearing a few birds in the trees above me. It was an awesome moment, being out there all alone and watching the arrival of a new dawn. As it grew lighter, I began to notice a few other early risers out and about—a man on the beach, a woman a few yards away on the bluff. And even though I was still in my pajamas and robe, I decided to take a walk on the beach. It was an unbelievable spiritual experience, just me and the majesty of the ocean, especially when I reached the jetty and stood there staring out to sea, hoping to catch a glimpse of a sea turtle. I didn’t see one, but I did see seven crabs crawling on a slab of rock beyond the jetty.

So, I’m standing there, just lost in this beautiful, spiritual moment, feeling so grateful for all the good things in my life, and suddenly, I had the strangest feeling that I wasn’t alone. I turned and looked behind me, and there, about six feet away, stood a military guy in a camouflage uniform, a pair of binoculars glued to his eyes. After I recovered from my surprise, I said, “Good morning. See anything interesting?”

His reply? “Just looking for a body, ma’am.”

Not exactly what I was expecting. Then I remembered how we'd seen the coast guard helicopter flying around the day before, and realized that was the reason why.

If I were the same woman I’d been when I lived here in Hawaii 15 years ago, I would’ve allowed that to ruin the moment. But not anymore. I was in a spiritual place, and death is part of life, and whoever the unfortunate person was who lost his life here in paradise is, hopefully, in a far better place. So I murmured a prayer for his soul and one for his loved ones, and walked back to the cottage.

Frank and I followed Diana and Jim to Hickam Air Force Base where they renewed their wedding vows at mass at the chapel where they’d been married 30 years before. And somehow—I’m not sure how—I got roped into reading “the message.” I was probably the only non-Catholic in the whole place, and yet, there I was, up at the altar, reading passages from the Bible. It was quite surreal. And then after the mass, the priest asked Diana and Jim—and us—to come up to the altar and they renewed their vows. It really was quite sweet.

Afterwards, we went to the Sea Breeze restaurant at Hickam Harbor for lunch. I wanted to order champagne, but they didn’t have any, so we settled for Blue Hawaii’s, a Pina Colada and a Mai Tai. After lunch, we parted ways, and Frank and I drove back to our old neighborhood on Gemini Drive and took pictures. That’s me in front of the mailboxes where I used to collect my rejections every day…well, practically every day. However, I also collected a few checks and contracts there. (It was at that address that I got the contract for the picture book with Doubleday—the one they reneged on after we moved to Manassas…but at least I got to keep the $4,000 advance.) :)

We’re back at the cottage now. I was burning up at Hickam and couldn’t wait to get back to Bellows to go for a swim, but by the time we changed into our swimsuits and walked down to the beach, it was chilly—at least to me. The trade winds are really blowing now that it’s late afternoon, and although the water was warm when it washed over my feet, I couldn’t quite make myself get in and get wet.

Tomorrow we check out of Bellows and head for Waikiki. But first, I want to stop at the Valley of the Temples, one of my favorite places in Oahu, and get some pictures. We’re meeting Diana and Jim at 4:00, and heading to the Aloha Tower to catch a sunset dinner cruise to celebrate our anniversaries. Should be really fun. Tomorrow, Frank & I will have been married 31 years. (And just between you and me, I think I made a pretty damn good choice in husbands. And like my sister, Kathy, has been known to say once or twice, “Carole found the only man in the entire world who’d put up with her.” I take that as a compliment because I know that’s how she meant it.) Right, Kathy? <>


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