We arrived back from Maui in a snowstorm.
So this was all an abrupt change of scenery, temperature, activity, etc after a week of passion fruit and snorkeling and humidity and sunburns.
I did not respond well.
We had begun a short list of reasons to move to Hawaii while we were still there. It began five minutes after we had arrived at our condo, two minutes after my youngest started climbing the plumeria trees.
We should move here, she said.
Why, I asked.
Because they have good climbing trees.
It was a good enough reason for me.
After several days of sand and sunshine, she was sitting on the lanai with me, eating a piece of bread.
Mom, let’s move here.
Because they have good bread.
Well, we have white bread like that in the stores at home, I just never buy it for you. (Hey, we know how to really live it up on vacation.)
She calmly explains that it is still a good idea to move here and makes plans for how our cousins can come visit us and we can visit them. With that, the matter seemed settled in her mind; it was simply a rational — rather obvious — choice.
So that first day back in Idaho, with a thin blanket of snow on the ground and no pineapple in the kitchen, it did seem a little absurd that we would have chosen to get on a plane back to this place.
And it did not get easier. Ordinary Life in Idaho is not nearly as fun as Vacation Life in Maui. Ordinary Life includes laundry and work and meetings and returning phone calls and helping with homework. Allergies and dry skin return. What water exists outside is frozen. Busy, stressed family members are not playful and fun. And I do not understand how, with all our advances in technology, I am unable to purchase passion fruit, either fresh or frozen, from the grocery store.
In short, it became obvious that life outside Maui is just bad.
One morning I woke up particularly sour. My prayer?
How come this isn’t Hawaii?!? I don’t want to be here. Why can’t everywhere be Hawaii?! That was a bad idea, not making it that way. Why can’t I go to Hawaii?!
(I tried to pretend that not six months earlier, for reasons I won’t go into now, I had woken up whining, Why do I have to go to Hawaii?!? I don’t want to go to Hawaii?!? Let it not be said that my ability to whine lacksin any respect.)
I believe God secretly rolled His eyes. But He didn’t leave the room.
Then it was time to begin formulating theological arguments for why the world’s not-Hawaiiness was a direct result of the fall. (It’s true. The world was perfect and therefore it wasn’t cold and there wasn’t a lack of plumeria anywhere. But then we went from sin to fig leaves and then weeds and then the flood. Somehow in all of there, Idaho winters happened.) And therefore I could aid in the plan of redemption by moving to Hawaii.
God just sat, listening. He may have raised an eyebrow. He may have thought, Seriously?, but I am not sure — who can know the mind of God.
Then I opened my Bible to my reading for the day, in Isaiah 42. After it talks about how God is doing new things, it says:
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
I took this to mean we should move IMMEDIATELY to the coastlands and go down to the sea. Hooray! Then I made the mistake of continuing on:
Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
… let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Oh. There is a new song in the desert too. And in the mountains. Which is exactly where I live: a desert surrounded by mountains.
I began to have the teeniest suspicion that maybe God wanted me to stay in the desert and sing a new song from there.
I sat. He sat. I sat some more.
Fine, I said.
And that was my new song: fine. Said just like a Jr. High girl whose parents just told her she will be going on family vacation instead of spending the week with her friends.
I sang it like a chorus: Fine. Fine, fine, fine.
You begin to see how things really are when you let yourself go a little. And ridiculous is usually how things are for me. And I confessed that this probably wasn’t the new song God had in mind, but that I really didn’t have another one at this point and so if He would be so kind as to give me a new one, I would be happy to sing it.
The first lines of it came later in the morning through an online radio station (that we found in Hawaii, where everything is infinitely better than anywhere else):
“All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong.”
And I realized that perhaps, just maybe, my perspective was off and that there are a couple things — just a handful, really — that are more important than tan lines and fresh tropical fish for lunch. It occurred to me that my Idaho winter was a temporary situation.
Yes, home is Hawaii, or at least something like it. I really do believe that’s what we — or at least some of us — were made for. (Yes, my theological construct on the fallen nature of snow remains firmly in place.)
But Hawaii, for all its glory, isn’t glory…it’s just a shadow, a promise, a postcard from our real home saying, Don’t forget! Good things are coming!
And that’s something I can sing about.