Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Posts tagged ‘Maui’

People Watching – Maui Style

I’m a people watcher.  Are you?

waiting-in-maui-airport.jpgI had a wonderful occasion to watch people … all strangers … over the last 24 hours.  About 175 people arrived at Maui’s airport to fly back to the mainland.  Dallas was our destination – about a seven hour flight, give or take, depending on the jet stream.  From Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, we would fan out from there – one guy to Brazil, one lovely lady to New York’s Hudson’s valley, another guy to St. Louis, a couple to Florida.  Me?  Back to Richmond, Virginia.

American Airlines is a great airline.  I love their reach.  British Air, Quantas, and Cathay Airlines are a few of their partners.  American fits most of my world travels.

Last night our AA 767 had mechanical problems, so we had to deplane and wait for repairs.  It turned out that our plane needed a part, and that the repairs couldn’t be done until today.  American put us up in a really nice hotel, The Grand Wailea, and gave us a food voucher.  The other passengers and myself didn’t get to enjoy all the fantastic amenities of this “Five Diamond” hotel, but we did get a decent rest.

Up at 3:15 AM, on the bus by 4, and back to the airport at 4:40.  Whew!

It’s now 11:15 AM, and we’re still not on the plane.  The repair part the mechanics needed and ordered for American Flight 6 came in, sort of.  Turns out whoever does the part-sending-out sent the wrong one.  Hmm.

But I gotta tell you, if you’re going to be delayed … and delays happen … you will want to have a similar experience to mine.  American employees (from the pilots and flight attendants to the mechanics) at Maui’s airport are the best, and they have gate and ticket agents you’ve only imagined in your dreams.  Every one is full of ALOHA!  Each person waiting on us has been so sweet.  And nice.  (You can’t teach the kind of “nice and sweet” we experienced, and you certainly can’t put it in a policy manual.)

I’m not sure when we’ll get off the ground, but being safe is better than being on time, right?

And if you’re going to be delayed at an airport, wouldn’t it be great if everyone you had to work with was sweet and nice?

Another mind-blowing observation I made today is … surprise … how nice MOST of the passengers have been.  Oh, there’s a few boneheads who have complained about anything/everything, maybe because of brain damage or a shallow gene pool.  Whatever.  Why make it tough on the people around you, or the children with you?

Anyway, back to “the MOST.”  Former strangers have chatted, shared stories, and been downright friendly.  Smiles were the rule, not the exception.  I watched one family do homework together, the dad quizzing his kids on math and English while the mom sat close by, smiling and encouraging.

Human beings, when tested, can show such cool and admirable qualities.  True character comes to the surface when put to the fire.

How’s your day?

Think about it.

What Does “Aloha” Mean?

img_0658.jpgWhat does “Aloha” mean?  According to To-Hawaii.com, “aloha” can mean hello, goodbye, love and affection.  But its meaning goes well beyond any definition you can find in dictionaries.  In Hawaii, you hear aloha all the time and you are treated with aloha everywhere.  (Hawaii is called the Aloha State, and for good reason.)  Aloha express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people.  It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians; they felt it was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii by one of their ancient gods.

The literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.”  (It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, when God created Adam He “breathed into him the breath of life,” and Adam “became a living being.”)  The word “aloha” comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, front and face, and “ha,” meaning breath.  

According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of sending and receiving positive energy, or living in harmony.  Aloha was and still is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.  

Inspired by the philosophy and the wisdom of the Spirit of Aloha, nowadays many institutions and businesses in Hawaii carry its name:  Aloha Tower, Aloha Stadium and Aloha Airlines.  Many Hawaiian singers write and perform songs about aloha as well.

 

Believe it or not, Aloha Spirit is considered a state “law.”  Although the word law sounds too strong and strict, Aloha Spirit is not a type of law that will get you in trouble if you break it.  Having “the Law of Aloha Spirit” on the books serves as a reminder to government officials (while they perform their duties) to treat people with deep care and respect, just like their ancestors did.   Aloha Spirit is more a lesson than a law.   By learning and applying this lesson to real life, government officials can contribute to a better world, a world filled with aloha.

img_0673.jpg

So by now you may understand that “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell, or a salutation.  Aloha means mutual regard and affection, and is a reminder to extend warmth and caring for others with no obligation (payback) in return.  Furthermore, aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person.

Queen Lili‘uokalani said, “Aloha is to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.”

I greet you in the Spirit of Aloha, and pray that you will discover the “breath of life” found in the Person of Jesus Christ. [Both pictures by Lowell Qualls, Maui – 2008 (c)] 

Resurrection On Maui

maui-sunset-small.jpg Joy!

This morning I was in the ohana (a Hawaiian name for “family room”) getting a cup of coffee, this cozy and welcoming little room being located close to our condominium.   Every morning Rick – our host – makes Kona.  The smell of the coffee was wonderful, deep and rich.

A minute or two later I was returning to our place, walking past the pool, and just luxuriating in the warm, fragrant air, listening to the Mina birds chirping and turtle doves cooing.  The sun was just peeking over the West Maui mountains, causing the clouds to glow light yellows and oranges.  Almost heaven.

A man I had never met came up the path leading to the ohana, heading for the coffee pot I had just left, and he greeted me.  “Happy Easter.”  I replied, “He is risen!”

I’m back in our place, sitting on our lanai, and my son just pointed toward the ocean.  “Rainbow,” was all he said.

This joy that is welling up within me is so pleasurable, so intense.  And I wonder, “Why do we concentrate so much on the problem of pain, and never wrestle with the problem of pleasure?” 

Philip Yancey asks, “If atheists insist there is no God because of all the pain and suffering in this world, why aren’t they held accountable for the ‘problem of pleasure?’” 

“Should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?” he writes, meaning that if Christians must defend the existence of God because there are so many painful experiences in life, shouldn’t atheists have to defend their beliefs because there are so many pleasurable experiences, too?

Why is sex fun?  “Reproduction surely doesn’t require pleasure,” Yancey goes on.  “Some animals simply split in half to reproduce … and … why is eating enjoyable?  Plants and animals manage to obtain their quota of nutrients without the luxury of taste buds.  Why are there colors?”  All good questions.

Back to Easter morning on Maui.  As I look around, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth itself puts God’s creative genius on display,” says David, the song writer of ancient Israel. (Psalm 19)  I get to enjoy all that I see and taste and feel because there is a God in heaven who created me to enjoy creation.

I’m a happy camper, and a joy-filled human being today!

Jesus is risen indeed.

Think about it.

(By the way, I took the picture above last night … looking out of the Pacific, toward Lanai.  Wow!)

Aloha From the Three Amigos!

img_0150.jpg

Some friends have been asking about an update on the whereabouts and activities of my sons, Brandon and Chris.

Brandon is continuing to live on Maui, Hawaii – working for a roofing company five-plus days a week, and a restaurant two nights a week.  He’s never had a problem with work, always willing to do whatever it takes to put bread on the table and keep the rent current.  He’s got a ton of friends (as you can see from the photo at right),img_0152.jpg and when he’s not camping around the islands he’s surfing.  One of my favorite things to do is meet up with him at one of the awesome surf breaks on the island (Honolua Bay, Ironwood, S-Turns, etc.), and while I’m watching the sun set I’m also watching him catch wave after wave.  I try to photo and video every time he’s up.  I’m making a short DVD for him – I’m taking it to him on March 18th.  He’s a blast to watch, and the smile on his face after an hour or two of surfing can light up a room.

Chris is still living in China – Beijing actually.  He’s continuing his studies in Mandarin.  His loves include camping and riding his motorcycle off-road (it doubles as his daily mode of transportation).  He’s super active in the “ex-pat” community (ex-patriots – people from other nations – living in and around Beijing).  Beijing continues to prepare for this summer’s Olympics, so it’s bustling with construction and modernization projects.  When the Chinese government encouraged the nation to become the next economic super-power (surplanting the US and the EC), the people took to the challenge in amazing ways, and with amazing results.  It’s incredible, watching this country of 1.5 billion people change from crippling communism to energized Chinese-style capitalism.   Chris is right in the middle of all this growth and change, and he loves it.

img_0296.jpgOne cool thing that Chris told me and Brandon about recently was one of his off-road adventures in north-central China.  Two of his buddies were traveling with him; the three were traveling pretty close to the Great Wall, taking in the sights.  Suddenly they stopped dead in their tracks!  They had inadvertently trespassed onto a military base.  They were surrounded by soldiers with AK’s, being asked what their business was.  Since they were foreigners, the soldiers weren’t kidding around.  They were let go, a little shaken but with an awesome adventure story.

I’ll be seeing Brandon and Chris again soon, and I’m really excited about it.  The boys are meeting me in Barcelona, Spain – and we’ll be together for about three weeks, exploring the Mediterranean, and ending up in Prague (the Czech Republic)!  We’re planning the last part of the trip now, going from Venice, Italy, through Austria, to Prague.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?