When we moved to Hawaii, I thought “aloha” was just a word. Turns out, I was wrong. Here it’s more than a mere greeting or a way to express warm regards as you part ways. It’s a spirit…a way of life. It’s a way of simply being.
Initially, aloha drove me crazy. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a tad bit hyper and high-strung and I’m fully aware that this is probably the understatement of the century. I have a lot of things to do and only 18 hours to get them done (if I save 6 of them for sleeping) so I felt there wasn’t time for all of this “aloha” nonsense. My initial assessment of aloha was that it was synonymous with nonchalant, negligent, and lazy; all of which are antonyms for Nichole.
We’ve been here for almost 4 months and my concept of aloha is slowly evolving. It turns out that aloha isn’t just a way of walking slow and driving slow (which, as a side note, literally kills me every time I have to drive anywhere. Why, oh why, can’t people aloha in the RIGHT-HAND LANE?!) Aloha is a way of living slow. It’s a way of stopping to appreciate the beauty of the sunsets and rainbows. It’s a spirit that involves deep, intentional love and respect for the people around you. Aloha places higher value on relationships than checking completed tasks off of lists.
As I’m beginning to understand aloha, I’m beginning to understand what it is that God may be trying to teach me here. And I totally see the irony of Him sending us to a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to keep my attention focused squarely on it. It’s the lesson He started teaching me last year in Alaska, only I was too distracted by the camping and fishing and mountains and s’mores to see it through to its conclusion. He is slowing me down. He is surrounding me with slower people and a slower pace and graciously giving me the opportunity to see this gratitude list through to the end. He’s using tradewinds and tropical flowers to capture my gaze and my thoughts and to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in my heart that can abide there long after it’s time to leave.
Aloha means adding things to my list like:
Fresh, juicy pineapple early in the morning
Stopping in the middle of a grammar lesson to run outside and see a rainbow.
Watching Ella & Sophie learn to dance the hula.
The brilliant colors on tropical fish.
Sea turtles. Everything about sea turtles.
Aloha means long enough to notice all of these things…and then some.