What's Tony Thinking

Notes from Hawaii


Our Hawaii idyll comes to an end now. We head home to Seattle today after two weeks in Hawaii, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, which is today, May 20.

Our time alternated, by intention, between days that were just the two of us, and time with family and friends. The first week we were on the Big Island. The second on Oahu.

A highlight for me, on the Big Island, was seeing my brother-in-law, Miles Mason’s paintings, with new eyes, now that I’ve been painting some myself. Miles is a rather remarkable artist in that he is color-blind. What he does see, sharply, however is what artist’s call “value,” that is light and dark in all their gradations. In some ways, value is more important than color.

Hapuna Beach, on the Big Island, remains magical, with its clear waters and gentle waves. A new hiking trail between Hapuna and Mauna Kea beaches is spectacular. I also hiked into Waipio Valley one day where the taro farmers continue their craft. Here’s a shot of the waterfalls at the valley’s end.

Oahu, where Honolulu predominates, is much more crowded than the Big Island, but remains uniquely beautiful with its combination of mountains, valleys and beaches.

We spent four days on Hawaii’s North Shore, famous for winter waves and surfing competitions. I love snorkeling at Shark’s Cove on the North Shore. Lots of sea turtles in the water with you there. Sea turtles have made a comeback in Hawaii waters, as have Humpback whales — so not all the environmental news is bad.

Yesterday we worshipped at Church of the Crossroads, where I had been the Pastor from 1981 to 1988. Crossroads was Hawaii’s first intentional inter or multi-racial church, founded in 1923. It has been a center of social activism and continues to be that today. The photo is of us with Crossroads current pastor, David Turner. You can glimpse some of the remarkable stone work at the entrance to the sanctuary.

Homelessness is on the minds of people in Honolulu, as in Seattle. You see tent encampments in Honolulu, though not so numerous as in Seattle. As in Seattle the face of homelessness is mixed — some trying to get enough money together to pay the first and last month’s rent on an apartment, some driven by mental illness, others by addiction. Some parks have been given over entirely to homeless encampments, which means limited park space becomes even more limited for others.

Another issue I wondered about was the effects of global warming and climate change as they are felt here. The most evident was people’s lament about warming temperatures. “Too hot” at certain times of the year. You didn’t hear that when we here thirty years ago.

We noticed some places where ocean front homes seem to have been fortified against rising waters and high surf. And at least one beach, once famous as a place for finding the glass balls that float fish nets, now is littered with plastic. If glass ball floats make attractive curios, the same cannot be said for plastic beach trash.

So the effects are incremental but real, as in Seattle and elsewhere.

It took us a while to get over the shock of a “5oth anniversary” — how is that even possible? — but when we had we truly did celebrate, aided by family and friends. Here’s Linda, with Teri Kawata, now 91. Teri was her first pastor, officiated at our wedding in her parents home, and a key figure for us for many years. He preached at my ordination in 1977, and served as a sabbatical minister for me at Plymouth Church in Seattle.

We contemplated the years, the different chapters, the ways we have changed and the ways we have stayed the same. We have a little more money than we did most of our married life, but we still prefer the simple to the fancy, the picnic on the beach to the upscale restaurant. Hawaii remains a good place for the simple and beautiful, for pleasures — like a sunset or swim — that are without price.

Sustaining a marriage over the years really is an achievement. While we aren’t going to crow about that we do take some modest pride in it. Overall, though, the predominant feeling isn’t as much pride as gratitude.





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