On a roll in Kalaupapa 

It was a luxury to sleep in a full-size bed for a change and an almost sinful pleasure to be able to have a natural awakening, rather than a 5 a.m. alarm, and to sleep until the cows come home. So, while I awoke initially that morning at about 6 a.m., I just rolled over, with intent on sleeping until the jet lag had worn off. 

However, I miscalculated and rolled over the side of the bed onto the floor. I had a rude awakening but thankfully nothing hurt except my pride. This was the only traumatic experience I had while visiting my family and staying with my brother and his family in County Galway, during the month of September. Otherwise I enjoyed my visit immensely.

Now I am back in my own narrow bed where I dare not roll over but am resigned to rock rather than roll. My initial reintroduction to Molokai last week was as we flew over Maunaloa and the west end of Molokai and I looked down on our friendly isle to see the red and brown earth parched by the summer sun as happens when we have a long dry summer. What a difference between these parched fields and the evergreen fields of Ireland that I had left a few days before. What a contrast to the green clad Pali that I feast my eyes on as I sit on my front porch in the evenings. But this is Molokai and today the rains have come, thank you, Lord and thank you, Saints Damien and Marianne. Soon the church lawn will come back to life, my garden will be refreshed and Randall will be revving up his lawn mower. He will be on a roll again.                                                                                                                     

Yesterday was my first Sunday back in Kalaupapa and I had reviewed my homily a few times as usual which was just as well since the jet lag was still affecting me and I forgot to bring my script to church. So I had to wing it. This did not seem to bother my congregation which included some senior students from Kamehameha High School on Oahu. They seemed to enjoy the brevity (like Fruit of the Loom) as well as the levity. These students joined us in singing the Hawaiian Doxology with much gusto. Then one of them, a young male with an operatic voice and backed by two classmates, sang a lovely Hawaiian song or hymn while a beautiful young female danced hula to this song. They were truly on a roll and it was thrilling. We gave them a standing ovation. Today I witnessed them doing service work in the rain near the Congregational Church.                                                

Though I miss family, I am happy to be back here at Damien’s Landing. Tomorrow I will host a priest from New Zealand and show him our historic settlements. Later in the week I will pack five pilgrims into my paddy wagon and show them around this land of Damien and Marianne. Yes, I am happy to be back in action and, even if I say so myself, I’m on a roll. 

Aloha.

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


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