My family and I recently returned from an amazing vacation to Kauai, HI. Wow. These tropical islands, although they have many similarities to communities in the continental United States, there is a different and unique feeling there, one of deep rooted tradition, honor, culture, and respect of nature. Some of the kindest people I have met, have been on my trips to the islands. As I stood on the shoreline of the grand Pacific Ocean, there was a constant reverence I felt for the power and majesty that is manifested with each wave, each sound of water crashing upon the shore, the rocks and my legs. My heart was touched by the connection and sense of community I witnessed there. I knew there was so much to learn, as I sat at the feet of the tropical island of Kauai. I set intentions to learn on my visit, so that I could add to my education and knowledge. I asked the island what it could teach me. My intentions were met ten fold, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share some of what I gained.
Many years back, the south shores of Kauai hosted a large glass factory. If the glass containers were chipped, broken or malformed during production, the employees would throw them to the ocean. Over time, the cracked and chipped glass would be tossed to and fro in the choppy waters, chipping, cracking and breaking further. The shards would go against the tides, be brushed up against coral, other glass, rocks and sand. After years and years of this same process, the glass would eventually make it back to shore, creating one of the most beautiful beaches on Kauai, appropriately named “Glass Beach”. The sand there is a mixture of crushed lava rock and all different sizes of smoothed out broken pieces of the factory’s tossed out handy work.
My family and I arrived on this beach ready, with our collecting containers, and our eyes peeled. The goal was to find the large, smooth pieces… for on the island of Kauai, ocean (or sea) glass is treasured for its beauty and rarity, and ability to be used to create attractive pieces of jewelry, sold at local markets and stores. The smoother the piece, the better. The beach itself was so awe inspiring! As you look down at your feet, you could see greens, blues, ambers, aquamarines, and whites from the tiny pieces of glass, mixed in with the volcanic rock sands common on the island. The challenge was to scour the beach and around the rocks, to find the largest smoothest pieces that could be used for necklaces, bracelets or rings. Every piece we found was smooth, rounded and unique. We found pieces as big as a quarter, and even gathered some the size of peas. Each one was a celebration, and we’d congregate together every so often and share our finds. All that was inside our containers had been through the rigors of the ocean enough to smooth out the sharp and pointed edges that would normally be common amongst broken pieces of glassware. We would later take note, that it was to varying degrees.
At our final show and tell, we laid out the treasures to observe and touch. The colors were all magnificent. The shapes and sizes were all very diverse and different. What stuck out to me the most, was that you could tell by looking and handling the articles, that some had been out to sea longer, and maybe even further than others. By the smoothness of their edges and the roundness of the sides, you could see which had been through more. As I truly tuned in to the messages that these oceanic pieces of art had for me, this one particular idea came to mind. All the pieces of glass eventually made it to shore. They all had spent much of their lifetime amongst the trials and hardships of the storms, the gentle rocking of the calm waves, the dancing on the ocean floor, the abrasiveness of other pieces of glass and rocks…they all had a lifetime of experiences. But to truly have the qualities that represented its value the most, it had to have REALLY traveled, REALLY lived, REALLY taken risks and been tossed around a bit. Yes! All pieces of glass eventually made it to shore--the ultimate goal, the divine destination! The ones we had found…they did it! They had arrived. But all took different routes, had different experiences, and have different stories. What was it that made them more smooth? Do our hardships, trials and even mess ups help us see and display our true worth? The longer those pieces would stay in the waters, the further they would go out, the more mistakes they allowed themselves to have, the richer and fuller they were upon return. What our earthly minds and eyes may label or perceive as scary or scarring, may simply be the refining process that smooths us out and shines us up.
I learned and was reminded of much on my trip with my family. Allowing others and yourselves the free agency to learn, to find, to see, to seek, to travel and interact with the world is a gift and a blessing. How each individual does it is up to them. By prayerfully taking risks through asking questions, doing hard things, getting outside of our comfort zones, feeling and acknowledging the whole spectrum of emotions…THAT is living. THAT is knowledge. Knowledge equals information PLUS experience (k=i+e). And with each new experience, we TAKE a risk. It may lead to a mis-TAKE. To me that is reason to celebrate as well, as we are all either winning or learning in this crazy ocean ride we call LIFE. Love yourself. Love others. Ask for the experiences and love them. Gain knowledge, love it, and share it. I will see you on the shores. :)
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