How did a profound experience in nature set me on a new, fulfilling life path?
As a child, I hated reading and writing (strange, I know!). But I’ll never forget, that when I was in third grade, I bought my first book at the Scholastic Book Fair at school. Not just any book. But a book that I was actually excited to read. And this book ignited my passion for nature.
Earthquakes, by Patricia Lauber (Scholastic Publishing) was specifically about the one in 1960 in Alaska that sparked devastation along the Pacific Rim as well as a crushing tsunami on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was rapt by the awesome power of nature. Although I was sad about the result of this traumatic event, I felt the thrill that inspires tornado chasers today.
Throughout my student career I opted for earth sciences and geology. I loved learning about rocks and tectonic plates. But when it came time to go to college, I was never good at biology or chemistry, so I picked marketing.
It took me twenty years to discover that, indeed, my heart was with the earth. I eventually left marketing and pursued a career and life path in feng shui, one of the earliest known earth-based practices.
But a few years before that happened, in the summer of 2002, I vacationed on the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) with my husband and children, just a few months after my mother passed away.
While in our hotel room, the night we landed, we turned on the news to check the local weather. But the breaking news story was what was so exciting!
Although Kilauea has been actively erupting since the 1980’s, most of the action was at the crater. The news reported a new surface lava flow, the type that people crave to see. The lava could be seen as an orange molten river flowing from a vent, down the flank of the volcano, to the sea.
They said it was “a breathtaking show.”
It was a divine synchronicity of events. I would be able to witness this active volcano in the most fantastic way.
Two days later, we arrived at Volcano National Park and that evening we took the 90-minute drive down Chain of the Craters Road to the coast. Upon the approach, in the dark of night, I was awestruck at the orange river coming from the top of the volcano to the ocean.
We parked along the side of the road, joining probably 100 other cars.
Rangers were guiding the bravest spectators to a special hike to see the lava flow into the ocean. We followed, one by one, along a path of red blazes along the trail.
“Trail” is used loosely here, as it was a path among the lava flow that the rangers deemed safe to cross that night.
Yes, we were walking across the lava river that had just been reported two days ago. But it wasn’t done yet. We traversed hardened lava that had cooled to a black crust on top, however, the lava was still flowing underneath. In fact, at every crack in the lava, I saw this amazing brilliantly hot orange lava flow just beneath my feet. It was surreal!
And it was amazingly hot! The smell of burned rubber from our sneakers filled the air. I realized why you were not allowed to hike the trail with flip flops. The other stipulation was that you carry a bottle of water so that you could rehydrate from perspiring so much.
It was breathtaking and completely unexpected. Both the new lava flow and the experience of walking on lava.
The lava entered the ocean in a burst of steam. This was the most primal show that Mother Nature can give. She gives us this awesome display as she is creating the earth, the land, right before us.
The lava flow is unpredictable, as it changes directions ever so slowly. Because the site is dynamic and changing, there are no permanent structures in this section of the park. There are trailers for the ranger offices and bathrooms. Everything is mobile.
And because of this unpredictability, there are no fences or railings to keep spectators from nature’s wrath. You can walk right up to the lava, but let me tell you, you won’t get closer than 3 feet due to the heat.
Watching the lava is mesmerizing, like watching an orange waterfall.
A few days later, we were in Hilo, the hardest hit town from the 1960 tsunami that I read about all those years ago.
Again, it was completely unexpected. I hadn’t realized that we were coming to this town that I read about all those years ago. And we visited the Hilo Tsunami Museum giving tribute to all those who lost their lives, and education on the phenomena. It was a solemn moment for me.
Now that I think about it, so soon after my mom’s death, it provided me more space to grieve my loss of her, and also experiencing Pele, the Goddess, in the processes of destruction and creation. And, although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was a subtle nudge to reengage with my passions. My passion for the Earth and Her forces.
Not only this, but to be an active co-creator with Her.
The opportunity to learn feng shui and earth energy healing started a few years after.
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Image credit: Wikiepedia – http://volcano.istad.org/tag/tina-neal/