The writer observes Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. (Courtesy Dina Marie Hale)
The writer observes Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. (Courtesy Dina Marie Hale)

This summer we entered earth’s paradise. Formed by five volcanoes over the span of much time, Hawaii’s big island was our home for nearly three weeks. The island reminded me that God’s footprints are everywhere.

Unofficially known as “Orchid Isle,” the luscious island has lava deserts, Kona coffee plantations and swanky resorts on the leeward side and rich rainforests, endless acres of macadamia nut trees and all the papaya you can eat on the windward side.

Adding some days onto a business trip, my husband and I lost track of time as we toured an environment that reflected total beauty and peace.

Psalm 150 says: “Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord!” My travels to the Rainbow State confirmed for me that all life does give glory to God simply in its existence. 

One evening I woke up in the middle of the night and decided I must go outside to investigate the night sky. Immediately the canopy above twinkled and came alive. At an elevation of 1,700 feet with no ambient light to block my view, I found myself enveloped into what seemed to be millions of stars, thousands of galaxies and I’m not sure how many planets. The Milky Way seemed to embrace me gently, and all around the sounds of silence were deafening. I could picture Abraham at my side, looking up into the heavens in awe listening to the Lord; “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, shall your descendants be.” Is this how the heavens praise the Lord? This magnificent beauty, which constantly encircles us, provides a perpetual sign of God’s grace in our midst.

“Praise the Lord from the heavens; give praise in the heights. Praise him, all you angels; give praise, all you hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; give praise, all shining stars. Praise him, highest heavens, you waters above the heavens.”

Then there are noises of the night, a nuisance to some but for us a reminder that at all times creation gives voice, to our God and creator.  The tiny Coqui frog was accidentally introduced into Hawaii from Puerto Rico in about 1988 and gets its name from the unique nighttime calling sound made by the males (ko-kee). As the sun drops downward the coqui’s low pitch “ko” followed by a high squeal “kee” rumbles all through the night piercing the ears of all who hear. These unpretentious of creatures give witness to the Psalm: “… you animals wild and tame, you creatures that crawl and fly…Let them all praise the Lord’s name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven.”

Finally, fresh, floral and fruity fragrances erupted on the island, from the exotic white pineapple to the delicate state flower the Hawaiian hibiscus and the robust aroma of the Kona coffee bean. This island air brought new life into our nostrils, penetrating our senses with the brilliance of nature.

My senses were tantalized from head to toe and I could see, feel, hear and smell the life breath of God all around me. What amazing grace it is to witness how in nature God unveils for us new life.

Upon returning home from our paradise adventure I attended a business workshop where the presenter offered this simple advice: “Do your job.” And it hit me, yes when each of us does our “job” — what we were created to do — then we are giving praise to God our creator.  When the coqui’s hum and the volcanoes erupt and the ocean waves ebb and flow they are doing their job and they are giving praise to God.

How am I doing my job? How am I being the person God created me to be? My sojourn to Hawaii has prompted me to make the most of the moment and to give thanks for all of God’s creation, great and small. 

Hale is a speaker and an emcee for Catholic events.