By around noon on October 15th of 2006, the day of the magnitude 6.7 Kona earthquake I was able to get onto the one and only flight leaving Kona that day, to go back to Waikīkī where my mother was staying with my brother Dan. The flight was uneventful, but when we landed we found out that there was no electricity… not only at the airport but anywhere! This meant that all bags had to be unloaded and brought into the terminal by hand! It also meant that once we got to Dan’s building we had to climb up 16 flights of stairs to get to his floor! As it got nearer to suppertime and the three of us began to feel hungry it meant that Dan and I had to go back down those 16 flights of stairs to try and hunt down some supper!
Unfortunately, everyone else in Waikīkī was doing the same thing, and food was running out! Everywhere we went there was no more food left! We finally found a sandwich shop which was able to cobble together for us three large salads after which they were officially out of food! Salads in hand we tackled the 16 flights back up! As the darkness outside grew, everyone in Waikīkī gathered out on their lānais since there was also no air conditioning working within the buildings! Slowly, very slowly, the electric grid started coming back online and as another block of buildings lit up everyone out on their lānais applauded! Finally, our block came back online and the adventure, at least for us, was over!
That experience made me reflect upon our needs for food, for meaning, for a direction in life. All humans feel need and experience it as being somewhat akin to a hole inside; a hole into which we stuff many things like food, sex, booze, drugs, relationships… all of them I am convinced as ways in which to try and transcend the confines of one’s self. But without a relationship with the Divine we are like buildings off-grid. Whether or not we belong to a church our souls are made to be alight with fervor, zeal, happiness … all those things which make us feel alive! Turning to God on a regular basis… whether through saying man-made prayers or simply talking aloud to God… connects us to the grid, to the source of aliveness.
Just as being overweight makes clear to us that we are not feeding our body correctly, so too that ongoing hunger at the core of our being makes clear that we are not feeding our soul correctly. But what to do about it? Don’t just gaze down from your lānai at the life happening down below! Go down those 16 flights and plunge yourself into the energy of life living itself! Reach out to God. Reach out to someone around you and help them. Reach out… and connect.