Last month in Kauai I remembered something weird and wonderful. I can’t recall exactly why but I went to Hawaii by myself about 25 years ago. It was some kind of free trip to a cheap and horrible hotel far from the beach in an ugly part of Honolulu. Lonely and surrounded by ugly is a bad combination. After two days I bought a ticket to Kauai and found another cheap hotel but at least it was on a beautiful beach. I decided I should learn to surf. The guy at Snorkel Bob’s convinced me to try boogie boarding first. “Where should I go?” He glanced over at a surf report on a clip board. “Tunnels.” Off I went.
The beach was empty and the waves were quite small. However, just a short distance past the shore break there were beautiful waves and even a few surfers, such as myself. The great thing about this beach was that I didn’t have to swim all the way out, I could walk along the curving shoreline and out onto the reef, then just jump in.
As I reached the reef I heard a voice from the rocks above me,“Are you going out there?”
I turned and looked up, squinting into the sunlight. “What?” I couldn’t see his face, but he repeated what I had already heard.
“Are you going out there?” This time he pointed out toward my good waves.
“Yeah,” I said, as if it was any of his business.
“You will die today,” he declared flatly.
I stared for a second at my good waves then turned to him. He slowly pointed back in the direction of the shore. I looked over at the crummy shore break. When I turned around (I swear on the souls of my grandchildren) he was gone.
In terms of all things spiritual, I know and love people who have a lot of “other” in their lives. I don’t. Other, being defined as things which cannot be explained as coming from myself, i.e. miracles, sightings, voices, etc. There are gray areas of “other” which to me include things like, getting well, answered prayer in general and encouragement just when I happen to need it. I hope these kinds of things are “other” because without them I don’t have a lot going on spiritually.
The guy (or the other) was right, of course, fifteen minutes later the tide changed and I came as close to drowning as I ever have in my life, while boogie boarding in the crummy shore break. Now, 25 years later, I stood at that same spot on the reef and say, “Thank you, I’ve enjoyed my gift.”