Here we are at the beginning of September and the beginning of the long migration for Humpback whales. They leave the waters of Alaska and head for our warmer tropical waters here in Hawaii to spend their winter birthing their new calves. But they don’t arrive here until late November or early December! That is a long, slow migration.
Three weeks ago, the devastation of a raging fire hit Maui. The combination of drought and extremely high winds caused by the remnant of a hurricane passing south of us, caused an unexpected disaster. Those on Maui, or with ohana on Maui, have just begun to travel a very long journey of navigating the losses and grief.
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Though everyone would like to sprint to the finish line of healing, it’s not a sprint. It’s a long-distance journey with a lot of ups and downs ahead. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to sprint over running long distances.
When I was in upper elementary school, I loved to run. I loved to run hard and fast, my braids flying behind me. In 5th grade, one of my crowning glories was beating every boy in my class in the 100-yard sprint. A year later, after hundreds of tries, I finally beat my father in a 100-yard sprint.
But in high school PE class, we were forced to run long-distance track. I hated it. I always started out too fast and wilted with pains in my side by the end. I preferred to put all my strength and might into quickly succeeding, and then moving on to the next thing. I would not make a good humpback whale.
However, I have spent years grieving losses. And it’s taught me to slow down and to understand you can’t rush grief.
There are so many losses people on Maui are facing. In Hawaii, ohana connections are tight and expand far beyond what is typical in American families. So the huge loss of lives has touched everyone.
Lahaina was a special place to many and especially to Hawaiians. It was the ancient seat of the Kingdom of Maui and so much history and memories have been destroyed.
In addition, Maui was already in a housing crisis. Those who live and work there, struggle to find affordable housing and now, families are struggling to find new places to live. Landlords are requiring outrageous deposits and confirmed income from renters. People have lost their businesses and jobs and many have no income at the moment, let alone the huge amount of money for a deposit.
So many jobs are based on visitors, and as the message went out “Please don’t come to Maui”, now jobs are being lost and even businesses not impacted by the fires are struggling. And yet, resources are short and often unavailable, and emotions are raw.
I don’t live on Maui, so how do I know all of this? I have ohana on Maui. My son and his wife work in the coffee business, and serve as Pastors in a church on Maui.
Their church, The Maui Movement, has collected funds, like many other non-profits. They began with the intense work the first few days of supplying those on the West side who were cut off with no supplies. They’ve provided air filters for many on the West side as the air is dangerous - especially for the kapuna (elderly). And now they are focusing on helping families in their communities with the basic needs of housing, transportation, etc.
I know, those of us that don’t live there, sprinted to help. So many from all over the world sent money and supplies. I read a story about a little boy who had a lemonade stand to raise money for Maui.
But, this is not a sprint. Healing is going to take a long time. Finding people places to live, new jobs, and cars to transport themselves to work is going to take time. And the inner healing that is needed is going to take even longer.
I plead with you to Aloha kekahi i kekahi and to remember the long journey Maui is facing. If you know someone on Maui, check out the pre-made gifts on my website. I am especially hoping some of the children’s packets can bless some of our keiki on Maui.
If you would like to give towards my son’s work - here is a link. It is tax deductible. If you are lower income like me, you might consider giving a small monthly gift.
Three weeks may seem like a long time to us, but it’s just the beginning for those facing these losses. The painting above of a Humpback Whale will, now, always remind me to be patient with those who grieve, to remember the struggles of others can be long and hard, and to stand by their side no matter how long it takes.
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Ocean Troubadour original and prints are available on my art website.
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