Sunday, February 26, 2012

Better than a Hallelujah

Better Than A Hallelujah lyrics

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday Luau

Life has been moving at warp speed since coming back from vacation, but it's so nice to have pictures and memories as evidence that we did have a blissful break in a beautiful place.

Our fourth day of vacation dawned sunny and perfect, per usual. I started the day with a very calming 90-minute yoga class on the beach from a great teacher. I'm not really into meditation, but I do like the idea of "breathing like a tree" when you're sitting still and trying to calm down: breathe in and nourish yourself, breathe out and nourish the world.

 After that, Ross and I had breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the beach to paddleboard! The waves were still kind of choppy from the previous day's surf, but I loved it! Ross was having trouble finding his center of balance, though. At one point I paddled past him. He stood up, cheered, and fell off. I laughed so hard that then I fell on my butt on the board. Serves me right, but it was pretty funny!

We went inside briefly for lunch and then headed out to the pool to read and relax in the sun.

This was definitely one of our more sun-heavy day so by mid-afternoon, we headed for shade and went to Juice 101 for some smoothies. Then we drove to the nearby Queen's Shops to browse.

Once we got back to the hotel, we met up with my mom and dad to head to the luau!

We drove to the nearby Marriott for the event.

There were a few festivities, such a hula lessons, before we got down to the main event.

We started watching the guys dig the pig out of the roasting pit, but then we got distracted.

old fish ponds
The sunset stole the show.

*There must be always remaining in every life some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.*  {Howard Thurman}

Then it was time to eat.

So delicious. Great weather, great company. Can I have dinner like this every night?! After diner, the hula and fire dancing show started. I was afraid it would be tacky, but it was actually really, really cool. There was a lot of talent on that stage.

Of course, pictures didn't come out well after dark.
What a fun, Hawaii-filled day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stargazing on Tuesday

A week ago yesterday, we arrived home from our trip to Hawaii. I'm sad that Tuesday's adventures were almost two weeks ago! The third full day of our vacation started as a relaxing one.

My mom and dad got up early for yoga, and Ross and I took a sunrise walk and watched surfers. The surf was coming in and LOTS of people were intent on taking advantage of it.

Unfortunately, that also meant that the novices among us were not allowed in the water. No equipment rental, lessons, or snorkeling allowed. I spent part of the morning pouting about this. It was aggravating being so close to the water but not being in it! To be fair, we could wade in the shallow water, but it was just cool enough that you had to really be moving to stay warm once you got wet.

All morning I kept thinking: how cool would it be to be a surfer? Your only job would be to find employment that will allow you to make enough money to support this hobby which, I imagine, is much cheaper than some other hobbies such as skiing or SCUBA diving once you own the board (and, of course, if you already live in Hawaii). Wouldn't it be wonderful to organize your life so that when the weather is perfect, you could drop everything and spend all day doing something that you love?! And I think it's so cool that every wave is different. Unlike running on a trail, surfers literally have a different experience every time they go out-- not just slightly different scenery.

Realistically, I know this would be an anxiety-provoking lifestyle for me... living hand-to-mouth year-round. And what if *gasp* you had to work on the one day the waves really came in? So yeah. Maybe not the life for me, but nice to think about nonetheless. It's always fun to see passion in action.

Tuesday morning left me with a desire to find an outdoor passion that allows me to interact with and find joy in nature. I really enjoyed just being active and outdoors this vacation.

Iced Kona coffee with mom and dad. A good way to start the day!
After these (not so profound) musings, I settled for some pool time in the sunshine. I swam a few laps and enjoyed the long lap lane. Much more fun than turning around every 25 meters. Once my dad was out of his meeting, we all met up and piled into the car. After a quick pit-stop for a picnic dinner and some green juice for me, we headed out. Destination? The tallest mountain in the world.

To be fair, Mauna Kea makes this claim by measuring from the sea floor. When measured from its true base, this dormant volcano is 33,500 feet tall, although it only rises 13,796 feet above sea level. In comparison, Mount Everest certainly has the highest elevation at 29,035 feet above sea level.

 There are 13 climate zones in the world and 11 of them can be found in Hawaii... many of them as you wind your way up this mountain. These include tropical rainforest (which we started to see when we went up to about 1,000 feet to see the coffee plantation on Sunday), dessert, and finally permafrost at the peak of Mauna Kea.

prairie-- doesn't look like 'Hawaii'

We didn't venture to the true peak-- that required a 4-wheel drive and time to acclimate. Instead, we drove to the visitor's station at 9,000 feet. We watched the outside temperature drop steadily as we drove up in elevation, and the landscapes did vary radically and quickly.

pine forest
approaching the lowest clouds
sunshine above the cloud line

cattle grazing over a mile above sea level

When we reached the visitor's center, we walked around for a minute and then quickly decided to hike up the biggest hill nearby to watch the sunset. For a few minutes, we had the hill to ourselves. And what a view!

Ross and Dad on the way up

The view from the top of the 'hill' on the mountain

Other people eventually had the same idea, though, so once it got crowded we sat down to eat. Food always tastes better when you've worked for it! It also arguably tastes better in fresh air because this deli counter meal of curried broccoli salad, mandarin orange and beet salad, taro chips, and tuna musubi was so good.

Then we settled in to watch the sun set above the cloudline.

There are no words, but "this is where heaven and earth collide."

Ross liked this picture the best!
Dad and Mom bundled up
With the last remaining bit of twilight, we hiked back down to the visitor's center to look at the stars.

Apparently 9,000 feet is just about the perfect location for viewing stars with the naked eye. You're above the cloud line and the atmosphere thins just enough that the stars are clear (apparently atmosphere is what makes them 'twinkle' when we usually look at them). Yet the atmosphere isn't so thin that our retinal cells are starved for oxygen. Pretty cool! To boot, the Big Island actually has some pretty strict lighting laws in place per the Mauna Kea astronomers. The observatory couldn't get really good funding unless the island complied. Looking at the stars without light pollution is a very rare experience.

telescope picture taken much earlier in the evening
There was a volunteer astronomer there with a big telescope set up allowing us to see a few things up close. Once it got darker, he pointed out a number of stars and constellations with a fantastically strong laser pointer. We saw stars whose circumference is bigger than the entire orbit of many planets in our solar system and others who may have burnt out years ago and we wouldn't know because their light takes so long to travel to earth.

We did get lost on the way home (poor lighting does have its downside, but poor road signage doesn't help). But it was worth it. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!