I see God.
The van struggles to make the last leg of the steep ascent up Mount Haleakala. The remnant of a low lying cloud lingers before the arrival of the morning sun and leaves a soft mist on my face. It’s chilly now but I’ll soon be peeling off layers during the 24-mile descent down the mountain.
Pairs of bicyclists leave and I close my eyes, breathe in and slowly exhale and wait, for a quieter, slower pace riding alone. After the van and the others leave I notice it – the stillness in the air is deafening. Alone, I pause to drink in the quiet. Gliding down the narrow, two-lane road I ride to the rhythm of clicking gears.
For a moment I think, riding alone, should I be fearful? I set aside the reality check in exchange for the gift that bicycling unwrapped for me as a child. Carefree summer days, a warm breeze brushing my short blonde hair across my freckled face… letting go of the handle bars and pushing the limits.
Another distant Hawaiian memory, studying in Honolulu for a semester and riding the “beach mobile” with my girlfriend on the handlebars, back and forth from the beach every day. And a familiar warm breeze brushing my light-brown hair across a 20-year old face, the pink strings of my bikini top flying in the wind.
Around the bend I see the first sign of life; cows grazing in a fence-less pasture near the side of the road. Will one amble into my path? They blissfully ignore me as I glide by.
Easing down the series of switchbacks and blind turns, I see a handful of houses, shacks really, that season after season have stood the test of time. Suddenly, an intoxicating smell overwhelms me, familiar but like nothing I’ve ever smelled in nature. A glance to the left reveals shadowy figures of Eucalyptus trees. The pungent, medicinal smell tickles my nose and my eyes water.
Farther on, I pull over to the side of the road, small swags of coffee beans dangle just above my shoulder. I gather a few dark red cherries for a closer look after my ride. An old sign catches my eye, boasting of Hawaiian coffee and my interest peaks. I walk my bicycle up a path where creamy petals of island plumeria line the trail. I savor the soft, sweet fragrance that stirs another familiar paradise memory.
At the top of the driveway battered, barn-red siding outlines an old storefront. I lean my bicycle against the front porch and open the squeaky screen door with the toe of my shoe. An older man with a dark, weathered face and a young mom and toddler sit inside at a table. A younger man behind the counter offers a “Mahalo” greeting as the screen door softly slams behind me.
“Where are you from?” “Visiting from the mainland, Washington State,” I replied. The older gentleman was seven years old at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The mom makes her living at a roadside stand closer to town selling coffee. I buy a bag of coffee and candied ginger and am on my way.
The descent gets steeper now with more switchbacks. Suddenly, I turn the corner to a stunning panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Leaning my bicycle against a tree, I scan the flat line of the horizon, amazed by the intoxicating scene. Camera shots won’t capture the paint-box blue sky reflected on the deep green water and twinkling white waves.
A rock bathed in sunlight begs me to linger, I flatten out and close my eyes; slowed breathing relaxes my soul. I see God, through all that he created. [Tweet that!]
I am the LORD God.
I created the heavens
like an open tent above.
I made the earth and everything
that grows on it.
I am the source of life
for all who live on this earth, so listen to what I say.
Isaiah 42:5 NLT