On each visit to Hawaiʻi Mom has wanted to go to the “Swap Meet” at Aloha Stadium, a trip always filled with challenges. First there is the challenge of finding parking as one slowly trolls the parking lot, hoping-against-hope that one might find a spot close to the vendors. Then there’s the challenge of trying to see as many stalls of items as possible, going from vendor to vendor arranged in huge concentric rings around the Stadium; a pilgrimage with literally hundreds of stops! Finally there is always the challenge that Mom, at her age, will suddenly become too hot and tired to go even a footstep further, even to get back to the car!
The first time this happened I thought, “What? I can’t carry her! We’re too far in the rings for Danny to bring the car to her! How are we going to do this?” In the end, I managed to drag her to where the parking lot meets the vendor stalls and we sat on the curb with me frantically fanning her while she swooned until Dan could find us with the car.
Life is filled with many challenges of one degree or another. There is the ongoing challenge to stay connected to God, to maintain a relationship with him, to pray to him. The recitation of prayers is not necessarily the same thing as praying but we are tempted to think that if we say “x” number of prayers then we have prayed.
There is the challenge of striving for a healthy humility, which has nothing to do with groveling or denial. To be humble is to be free of deceptions by being in touch with the simple truth of one’s own realities.
And I wonder about the challenge that the Hawaiian people face, which I think is not one of money, jobs, or possessions but rather, the temptation to allow themselves to slowly and insidiously become disconnected from the spiritual orientation of Aloha. There is an inherent tug-of-war between Aloha and the values sold by the Western business culture.
But challenges are not a bad thing, just sometimes a discomforting thing! A challenge is the chance to become new, to plow the field over for a new crop, to wipe the slate of the past clean… to get one’s mother back to the car!