Grandmother Turtle was calling me in her mysterious way long before I even knew I was returning to the Big Island of Hawaii. Her vivid image kept appearing in my mind’s eye when least expected. She had been there to greet me when I arrived on my birthday last year and to my surprise and delight met her again in the exact same spot on the day I had to leave. She had a curious mark on her shell which helped me recognize her immediately and there was something special about sitting with her at a respectful distance on both my first and last day on the island. Her ancient presence held me spell bound. It felt like she was transmitting something on an energetic level that cannot be put into words.
As soon as I got back to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I returned to the same sacred spot where we had met. Somehow I already knew that she wouldn’t be there, it didn’t matter. I felt her presence as clearly as on the first and last time we met. I stood there watching two much younger turtles make their way home into the ocean surrounded by many visitors capturing their escape on camera.
Leaving the beautiful sunshine and heat of the Kona area behind, as well as the sweetly familiar landscape and landmarks, I made my way towards the Volcano National Park. Turning off the highway a few miles from the park entrance, where eventually an unpaved lane led me to my new temporary home at a rustic artist sanctuary at a much higher elevation with much cooler temperatures and huge amounts of rainfall.
Settling into the jungle and rustic cabin was easy, feeling welcomed by the other women as well as nature. The wild pigs had opened up the path to the rustic cabin I am staying in, which the rain turned into mud. Feeling the squishy mud beneath my feet as I carried my suitcase to my humble home, I had a sense of stepping deeper into an unfolding mystery and this might turn out to be quite different from the dream that brought me here.
Within a few days of my arrival three of us drove to a beautiful beach near Hilo where the sun gifted us with some heat, which was most welcomed after sleeping with four blankets at night to stay warm in my unheated little abode. Exploring the beach and cliff, I was immediately captivated by the dramatic and stunning contrast of the green vegetation against blue sky and the turquoise water and white waves crashing against the black lava. The wild beauty was stunning, bringing me deeply into the present moment.
Yet I felt strangely vulnerable standing out on that cliff covered in black uneven lava rock with huge waves rolling towards me. Both fear and exhilaration took their turns in me as wave after wave crashed against the rocks, some so unexpectedly big and powerful bringing the water way too close for my comfort level.
Deciding that I wanted to find more peaceful surroundings, I made my way back to a channel I had waded through to get to the cliff. Soon I discovered a perfect spot right at the edge of this channel, where I could watch fish of different shapes, colours and sizes enjoy the calm water leading into a sheltered pool.
It took me a while to notice her. She was sleeping underwater, her shell blending completely into the rocks she was lying on. It was almost a shock when I realized that the giant rock in the channel beneath me was really a giant turtle. This one was even bigger than the one I met last year. A new friend of mine sat on the opposite side of the channel and we both sat silent in the presence of this giant ancient being. People came by, some noticed her and some not. One made a comment that she surely must be dead as she was lying completely motionless on the bottom of the water.
When another giant turtle swam through the channel right over her, she lifted her head and soon made her way to the surface. Watching her take a her first breath after being under water for a very long time was like watching a baby take it’s first breath. As she looked at me and acknowledged my presence, I had the same feeling I had a year earlier when Grandmother Turtle greeted me. Then she turned her head slowly and looked at my friend on the other side before sinking back to the bottom resting on the matching rocks. My friend and I looked at each other, neither one of us had words to describe this experience. “Awe” doesn’t even come close.
As I sit here writing this, “Flash Flood Warning” messages appear on my phone every couple of minutes as the heavy rain keeps coming down relentlessly, and I wonder what we could learn from these ancient ones, what messages they might have for us if we cared to listen.
As I slowly break through my resistance of the endless rain drenching me each and every day, keeping me awake most of the night with the intense drumming on the metal roof of my cabin four feet from my head, teaching me to surrender, rather than resist what life is bringing me, encouraging me to open to the gift that is waiting to be fully received in this moment.
I remember last year around this time I volunteered at an amazing fundraising event for Standing Rock on our little island, bringing so many of us together, recognizing the incredible importance of water. The event was a huge success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. “Water is Life” our small community choir sang at the benefit. The powerful words are still ringing in my heart as is the power of people coming together and stand together for what is sacred.
Each day the lessons around water deepen and bring greater awareness. Yesterday we decorated our new “African Shower Bucket”, that has brought us immense amount of delight in decorating, as well as much appreciation for being able to wash our hair and bodies with warm water. After many cold shower this is truly heaven. And it is not lost on us, that there are many in the world who have little or no access to water. So I am letting go of my dream of sunshine and embrace both the incredible abundance, the lesson and the gift, as the frogs start singing their nightly song regardless of if it’s raining or not.