Room at the inn

The bus was filled to capacity and one very pregnant woman was left standing in the aisle up front in the clear view of all the other passengers. No one got up to offer a seat to her, no one that is, except the bus driver. Quickly realizing the situation, he brought the bus to a full stop, rose from his driver’s seat and walked back to the pregnant woman. He took her by the arm and led her to his driver’s seat where she sat down and took the steering wheel in her hands. With that, just about everyone on the bus got to their feet, now willing and anxious to give her a seat. 

No, this did not happen here in Kalaupapa, though I may have triggered a similar response, even emotions of terror, on that occasion when I took the wheel of the Kekaula Tour bus. This was actually a video that someone had sent me recently via the Internet. It may have been a staged stunt but it evoked in me the Christmas story of “no room in the inn,” as well as the thought of the marvelous influence of a pregnant woman on our world. So, as we do each year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we again relived this story and celebrated this very special pregnant woman, Mary, and her wonder child, Jesus.

We could say that our preparation for the celebration of this great event began on December 10 when we climbed aboard the Kekaula Tour bus driven by Santa Claus, aka Rick Schonely from Topside Molokai, and went from house to house singing Christmas carols. There were several lively women on that bus wearing various Christmas outfits, though no obviously pregnant woman. One woman sported reindeer antlers for which I teased her. After touring the settlement for quite some time, Sister Alicia Damien and Sister Barbara Jean invited all to share goodies at Bishop Home, Kalaupapa’s Manor House. There’s always room in that inn.

December 19 saw us gather at McVeigh Hall for our annual Christmas Lion’s Club dinner. On arrival at the hall, I was gently chided for being late to offer a blessing but that did not deter me from enjoying the food which was absolutely delicious. Earlier that day I had prayed a blessing at the rededication of the recently-renovated Lion’s Club Ocean View Pavilion.

Christmas Eve has always been exciting for us older folks and as usual we celebrated our first Christmas Mass at 7 p.m. with music and singing provided by St. John’s Choir from Kailua. Afterwards they provided us with a sumptuous dinner in Damien Hall next door. After dinner the rains came but did not dampen our spirits. The next morning we would have loved to have had children with us to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Savior but, as most of you know, we do not have any children here in the settlement. So some of us act like children which is why our good Franciscan Sisters had us for Christmas dinner following the example of St. Marianne Cope.

Some time on the following day we learned that there had been a landslide on the trail between switchback two and three which took down the bridge which had been bolted to the face of the cliff. This means hardship for some of the workers from Topside because there will be no access by trail into or out of the settlement. It also means that other hikers or mule riders will be unable to use the trail for some time to come. It has cast a cloud over us for the time being, but we will overcome, as the song says. For now we wish you all a very Happy and peace-filled New Year and remember, there is room in the inn here in Kalaupapa. 

Aloha.

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.


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