Sacred living at Barking Sands

I’ve lived near the beach my entire life. I don’t surf or sail, tan or dive. I beach comb and ponder life’s great complexities. I walk quietly, look around, and listen. I dip my feet in the surf and climb driftwood. The vastness of the water speaks to me of God’s power and the birds remind me of God’s promise: while providing for all things feathered, His cares extend to us, as well.

This week I have walked the sandy beaches of Kauai and enjoyed the sounds of the surf that reach the house where we are staying. I’m fortunate to be able to join my husband who is working on Navy birdstrike issues here at the Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility. The sand grains of this beach have a thin coating of silica and are supposed to make a barking sound if you walk on them when conditions are right. I’ve yet to hear the bark, but I’m using the time to enjoy my husband and the Smithsonian research team working with him, as well as grow in my understanding of the Hawaiian culture.

Wednesday evening I watched humpback whales breach just off the shoreline. The whales work off the coast of Alaska to build their fat reserves then vacation in waters around the Hawaiian Islands, to birth their young. Spouts shooting up from the waves and dark backs and tails reaching out of the waters, if only for a brief moment, are thrilling to see. You’ll miss such sights if you don’t slow down and water gaze.

Even the wildlife living on drier parts are a treat to observe. Each morning choruses of birds rouse us from our sleep and keep us reaching for binoculars throughout the day. Many display tropical plumage I thrill to observe. Even the common roosters and hens that run free over the entire island, as do wild pigs, are fun to spot.

Residents of nearby Kekaha are perennially tanned, gracious and laid back. My Pacific Northwest legs have been a dead giveaway to my tourist status as I have perused grocery store aisles this week and it has been delightful to visit with local shoppers. I’ll cease complaining about the price of food when I return home. There are great advantages to having a bridge and ferries to move residents and goods on and off Whidbey, to be sure!

To experience the cooling benefits of the trade winds, we keep the slatted windows of the house open day and night, eat light meals out on the lanai, and live in shorts. What is business as usual for residents is a treat for us, and I keep reminding myself that such memories of time spent together will carry us through difficult experiences when they come. They will add to our understanding of the joys and challenge others face while living around the globe. And they will increase our appreciation for the lifestyle we have come to love on Whidbey Island.

Coffee plantations are replacing sugar cane production in some areas of the island and all pineapple you purchase from roadside stands is now flown in, but some things never change: Hawaiian cultural pride, the smell of plumaria flowers, waves perfect for surfing, and aloha.

Paul Persall, Hawaiian lecturer, keynote speaker and best-selling author writes, “The five principles of aloha (kindness, harmony, pleasantness, humility and patience), when practiced together, awaken our awareness of human potential and the sacredness of our lives.”

It’s the same message my own heart hears from the Lord of the universe as I walk the beach, meet Kauai residents, and linger in my beautiful surroundings this week. This IS a sacred life. Let’s live it well.

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