I have spent the last four weeks where my heart is happiest and most joyful. I am writing this brief post in the Honolulu International Airport as I wait for my flight back to mainland to join the priests of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois for our annual convocation.
As I think back on these recent days of rest in the Land of Aloha, I cannot help but recall that this is been the hottest and the wettest I have ever known Oahu to be. Even the locals do not seem to remember something quite like it, a result of four tropical storms/hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean in the relative vicinity to the archipelago at the same time. Still, the frequent, heavy rains have also made Oahu the greenest I have ever seen it, no small feat, that!
As usual at this moment of the year, my heart is heavy; each time I leave Hawaii is harder than the last. I do not quite have the words to describe the sentiments in my heart, but Mark Twain does (he visited the islands in 1866):
No alien [Hawaii was not yet part of the U.S.A.] land in all the world has any deep strong charm for me but that one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done. Other things leave me, but it abides; other things change, but it remains the same. For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of the surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its gnarled crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud wrack; I can feel the spirit of the woodland solitudes, I can hear the plash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.
I have only been visiting Hawaii for nine years now, but I know Twain's words to be true.