One step at a time

“One step at a time, there’s no need to rush.

   It’s like learning to fly, or falling in love.”

While I pen these lines, a crew from the National Park Service are using a noisy drill as they prepare the top steps of St. Francis Church for repair. This project began a couple of weeks ago when “Bishop” Meli and I inspected these steps and decided that they needed an overhaul before someone got hurt, and that she would ask the NPS to repair them. When Meli asks, the response, as always, is a Biblical-like response: “Be it done according to your word.” That prompted an immediate warning tape to be put across the damaged steps, leading to today’s action. One step at a time! 

We could say that the song “One step at a time,” sung by “American Idol” winner, singer, writer and actress, Jordin Sparks, would make a good theme song for Kalaupapa Settlement. We usually get things done eventually, one step at a time. It involves lots of patience and often times some ingenuity. It means switching plans for the day’s schedule when we lose power, as happened last week. It means skipping one’s siesta, when the warning siren goes off, as happened last week, not because of an anticipated tsunami, but for a surprise tsunami drill. Luck would have it that I had my pants on. 

Of course many things did go smoothly this past month, like the blessing of ashes ceremony for Winnie’s relatives, Mary Jane and George, who had recently taken the stairway to Heaven. When the ice machine at the Visitors Quarter’s broke down last week, while Bishop Larry and our seminarians were here on retreat, we were able to get an ample supply of ice from the machine at McVeigh Hall. Knowing the next step to take is vital here regardless of the situation.  

In mid-week Bishop Larry and some of the seminarians, as well as Sister Romeka, who was also here on retreat, decided to take on the Kalaupapa trail while the others went swimming at the pier. Bishop Larry dispensed myself from climbing. It was providential that the others stayed here in the settlement because they found themselves fighting a brushfire that had been accidently started by another group who had already left the property. All in a day’s excitement!

Meanwhile, Bishop Larry had returned to base camp as his knees were hurting from all the times he has done this climb — as well as all his years kneeling. However, Sister Romeka marched all the way to the top of the tough trail in the company of Father Rheo, our vocation director. She is a champion climber and so she conquered the trail despite aching legs — one step at a time. 


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

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