Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rain Showers and Shower Trees

It may be snowing elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, but here in Hawaii we are being deluged with chilly rain. On Sunday we had some sort of melted blizzard that threatened to beat down the world to death. The mountainsides were draped in thunder-rumbling clouds. Even now, it is raining again, and the sky feels like a heavy cold blanket. It surprises me how green the earth can be when the air is this gray. 

The seasons here are strange. We are in the midst of our Rainy Season, as contrasted with the rest of the year which I suppose we call the Non-Rainy Season, because it definitely isn't dry. But there are other seasons as well, and they don't line up all in a row like spring, summer, fall, winter. We have Mango Season, Plumeria Season, Whale Season, and the various fluctuations of Tourist Season which lasts all year long. February is apparently the flowering season for this tree:

I'm not the best at recognizing the true names of all the tropical plants around here, but I'm thinking that this is what people call a Yellow Shower Tree, especially since it looks similar to the trees in this blog post

We have Pink Shower Trees as well, which always make me think of Bridal Showers. But I assume the name comes from the fact that the flowers shower the ground like rain, like snow. 

The photos almost portray how very Yellow these flowers are. They are as brilliant as sunshine. So bold, they cry out to everyone who passes to just look. Look at their definition of color against the sky, against the ground. I never realized how vibrant actual, natural color could be until I moved here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

At Sea with the Humpbacks

"Exultation is the going of an inland soul to sea..." or so says that sober-silent friend of ours, Emily Dickinson. And when one is asked to play chaperone to a group of children hungry for the sea and the salt spray and adventure, one must say a definite yes. 

And so that was that. A boat, a multitude of bright blues, and the purest air ever breathed at noontime. And this for our front yard, this I would be happy to call my welcome mat:

The boat, a catamaran with sails, was laid with a tight trampoline in the bow. Here is where the children - and eventually a circle of youth-renewed women whose more cautious children went below decks to become dry - balanced, their hands grasping the ropes, their faces forward with wind-pressed smiles, their feet swinging free into the salt-air with every swell of the sea.

And if that wasn't enough, there were the whales, the humpbacks, who rose and fell, dipping themselves into the air like toddlers dipping their feet into a pool. Like icebergs, these whales show only a fraction of themselves above the surface, yet we know that their giant bodies are there at home under the waves. They spout their fish-eaten breath into the air and sink back down, only to wave a fingertip fin at all us spectators, only to gradually raise a fingerprint tail gracefully as they dive.

I soon discovered that whales are more photo-shy than even I am. And to catch on film a breach, a whale lifting itself completely out of the water, is to near the impossible. So I gave myself up to mental photography, taking with my eyes the pictures of humpbacks side-by-side, of the baby whale learning to jump, of pectorals and dorsals and flukes stretched at the sky.

I will not lie, for my heart was heavy that day. I crept often to the bow of the boat, inching as close as I could to the sea - if only to touch with my toes the liquid air of home - only to be called back again by the crew. Silly of them, really. As close as I wanted to be, I would not have fallen in. And if I had? It is but the sea, this straining, striving, struggling mass of energy that our very lives are balanced on. It is just like our every day, this life, this sea. We are afloat for today, rising and falling on the hourly swells. We do not drown. Not now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Knowing Goodness

I am lying down feeling the cold of the night which hasn't worn off even though noon approaches. A break between lessons - those children with still-growing fingers attempting gymnastics on the keys. I am warm when they tell me their stories, when they smile at a piece played well. But my feet are still cold, and my heart is tired, and the tea's caffeine didn't fix everything. I need to get ready for the rest of the day's lessons, but I drag on. I pick up a book (a pleasant procrastination). 

One Thousand Gifts ~ Ann Voskamp:
reminds me to be thankful for God's goodness
to know the particulars of God's gifts to me
to cast away ingratitude, the urge to recognize the cold rather than the warmth

I am happy about:
sweaters and windows that let in light and not cold and the prospect of espresso in the morning and music theory and quiet times and busy times and the last three hundred pages of Monte Cristo and the freedom of Fridays and afternoons watching whales and friendship and people who care when they aren't told to and even almost this disquietude thinking have I done enough worthwhile today.

And here, I live in a place where people line up to watch the sun sink below the sea. Every evening they come. 

Because it is beautiful, because it is worth it to see the good things. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Abandoned to the Beautiful Commonplace

Orchids, to my mind, shout out the words: "rare beauty." But in fact, there are over 20,000 species of orchids all over the world. They are commonplace, like mornings and mourning doves, like acne and aching. But they are still beautiful. 

The Beautiful Commonplace. 
Rarity has nothing to do with it. So how come I am always surprised when faced with the beautiful? I confess, I am afraid. Afraid it will not last.

I fear. Abandonment. 
I am afraid to be left behind ... again. Intentionally and unintentionally, it has happened. People disappoint, let you down, leave. It feels like the world is full of 50-50s. There's a chance you might be happy, if the stars align in your favor, but then again, you might not be. 

This life of fear has a dual nature. On the one hand, when a hint of happiness springs from nothing, I act impulsively, casting caution to the wind, because this happiness doesn't have much of a chance at long-lasting. On the other hand and at the same time, I hide away my soul in a casket of self-protection, clutching the violets of my fears - a pre-death arrangement.

And then the world collides. A wife dies, too young. A child lives most days in a frozen-hearted hospital. The money runs out, and keeps running out. A country goes to war. A marriage collapses. A car breaks down. Heartbreak is commonplace. There are other people with eyes-closed fear. We, together, are each alone.

How do we escape this "labyrinth of suffering"? How do we lose our pity-focus on self? How do we find the beautiful, how do we appreciate it in spite of ourselves? 

Then I remember: we are not the only ones abandoned, the only ones alive in the midst of death. Jesus on the cross. Abandoned by His closest friends. Abandoned by His own Father. Crying out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

And yet, He was not alone, not forsaken, forever. He is risen. In communion with the Father, in communion with us. Our own abandonment by this world brings us closer to Him, makes us more alike. We have nothing to fear when He has conquered this death, and He will never abandon us.

I abandon. Fear.
I hold. The Beautiful Commonplace. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...