Hōʻailona and Ōpūkahaʻia

July 3, 2016

In from Lauren Buck Medeiros

Hōʻailona – mysterious and inspiring messages – if your eyes, your ears and especially your heart and soul are open to the gifts that come at special moments … and the special moments, complete with hōʻailona, were in abundant supply today.

Our drive to Cornwall was scenic and marked by long and winding roads, quaint red barns, trees of every hue of green, and sunlight dazzling the northeastern countryside with a breath of fresh hope. We arrived in time to peek into the Cornwall Historical Society (complete with a model of the Foreign Mission School) before we walked down the road which was once the path trod by none other than Ōpūkahaʻia and other Hawaiians, Native Americans, Chinese and Africans who were eager to learn here. The Foreign Mission School was a bold new venture to educate young men from indigenous cultures around the world with the intention of sending them back to share their new knowledge with their own people.

We walked with solemn steps up to the house where Ōpūkahaʻia, the one who planted the seed of the mission to Hawaiʻi, passed from this life into the light of eternal life. It wasn’t until later when looking through the pictures taken on my phone, that we noticed the unearthly rays of light streaming across this picture.

After a wonderful worship service at the Congregational (UCC) Church of Cornwall, we were able to visit with the delightful and delighted members of the congregation – a great-granddaughter of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the deacon who had presided over the service that lovingly returned the remains of Ōpūkahaʻia to his homeland in 1993, and others who were connected to our school and individuals we know in common. How small is our world. We were overcome with the awareness of the great love these people had for Ōpūkahaʻia.

We proceeded to the Cornwall Cemetery for more moments. As we chanted and offered a pule, the gentle wind blew, reminiscent of the wind we felt as we prayed by his final resting place in Napoʻopoʻo. As we placed the pebbles that we had brought from Kona to Cornwall, in honor of those who loved him well in this place, a calm settled on this beautiful hillside and in our hearts.

Another picture taken at the grave clearly shows a glowing orb just above his tombstone – another hōʻailona – another visceral reminder that we are "surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." He was so real to us – it was more than a story or a picture. It was a real understanding that he embodied the two gifts: the deep Hawaiian roots and the deep faith he came to know and want to share.

Some call these experiences "thin places" where one becomes aware that the veil separating this world and the next is porous. We call them hōʻailona.