When I moved to Hawaii, I spent the first three months waiting for my couches, pots, dishes, and dresser to arrive. After about two and a half months of living out of a suitcase and only having one pan to cook in, I was ready to build my home. People in Michigan laughed at me saying that I was living a vacation and it shouldn’t matter.
I tried to smile, I know they only meant well, but deep down, I was livid. I had just traveled across a continent and an ocean with only Hubby. I had no friends, no church, no support. At the end of the day, I just wanted to sit down on a comfortable couch and eat dinner on a plate that wasn’t made of paper. I sat in my big house with no furniture – wanting everything to be perfect so that I could open up my home.
Almost three years later, I still often need to escape from Hawaii. The clothes I was eagerly waiting to arrive are now sitting in laundry baskets calling out, demanding to be folded. The sand from the beach has made it’s way onto my floors and the noise from the crowded Oahu streets assaults my ears. After a few months of busy weekends and stressful decisions, I needed to step away from my gifts to refocus my life.
So we bought plane tickets, packed the tent we registered for when we got married and found ourselves on the island of Kauai with nothing on the agenda except, as Hubby quite insisted, not having an agenda.
When we stood at the car rental counter, the man told us that we couldn’t get to the state park we were headed for without four-wheel drive. We smiled. The road was beaten but, as good Michiganders, we knew how to drive down a worn out dirt road. When the road finally turned and opened onto the beach, the view soothed every tensed muscle and calmed our minds.
As the sun set over the small island of Niihau, we sipped our beer and ate our hotdogs off of paper plates. And we savored every simple moment. Laying on rolled out mats, we fell asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. I woke up early to the same waves and spent the day wandering through the mountains and hiking down into a canyon.
When we got back to camp, we realized we were only a stones throw away from an older woman. She asked where we were from and welcomed us to the island, calling us family. Quickly it became obvious that she lived there on the beach. When we struggled to get our wet wood, from the mountain, to catch fire, she brought us cardboard and wood from the beach. And within minutes, the fire was roaring. We shared our hotdogs and she brought us fruit and offered soy milk and water and bread. She asked about our families and we marveled over creation.
As we sat there, I couldn’t help but think of the widow. The one who gave her last pennies at the altar. This woman had nothing, but she offered to share it all.
Sometimes, we have to step away from the laundry to remember why we’re grateful for clothing and the months it took to arrive. The bite of hotdog, made me long for the soup and grateful for the kitchen to cook it in. And being hosted by a woman who lived on a beach made me realize that I always have something to give to others and something to give thanks for.
My hands are full but I am stingy.
With my time.
With my possessions.
With my compassion.
But Water Lily, the woman on the beach, she was extravagant. From the moment I met her, she was offering her help and her few possessions. And her grateful attitude was as big as the Hawaiian sky. She lived on the beach, with a handful of possessions, and loved people with every bit of them.
So I left Kauai with a full heart and with a new determination to love extravagantly. Because even hotdogs can serve others and now that my house is full, it should be opened and poured out in love.