Once upon a time, a young man had been doing a bit of drinking in Waikiki. He was having a great time with his friends, but one by one, his friends departed until he was drinking by himself. Then the bars closed, and this young man wasn’t sure how he would get home. So he decided to sleep it off and figure out where he needed to go in the morning. He walked up Lewers where he had been drinking until he came to the Ala Wai. It was lit well there and there didn’t seem to be anyone around, so he started to sleep there by the edge of the canal.
A car drove up to him. It was a large, luxurious car with a driver who wore a fancy cap. The driver opened the back door and out stepped one of the most beautiful women our young man had ever seen. She said to him, “Oh no, do you not have anywhere to go? You should come home with me.” It didn’t take a lot of thinking for our young man. The ground was hard by the Ala Wai and this was such a kind invitation, it would be rude to turn it down.
He got into the beautiful car, and his host asked about his life. She was so interested and kind. It was a delight to speak with her. The car made the winding journey up Diamond Head and then up a winding driveway to a mansion overlooking the lookout. His host said, “You must be hungry. Let’s get you some food.” Her chefs prepared the finest meal the man had ever had, and they talked and talked all about life as they looked at the stars strewn over the ocean out her windows.
When they were tired, the man’s host led him to his enormous room with the most comfortable bed he could remember sleeping in. He changed into luxurious pajamas that felt like nothing he’d ever known before on his skin. He got into bed and thought about his amazing luck. Then there was a knock on his door. It was his host. She said, “I wondered if you might be lonely and could use some company for the night.” Our young man said, “Of course.” She said, “OK, just scoot over a bit so I can get into bed.” So the young man scooted over and fell right into the Ala Wai.
One of my favorite authors, Anthony DeMello, uses a version of this story in one of his books to illustrate how easily we can be lulled into a fantasy about our lives—we can lose sight of reality at times. Many of us have moments when we awaken to the truth of our surroundings or our lives—wake-up calls. I hope for all of us that we might awaken to deeper truths together in the week ahead…and perhaps we will be spared a nighttime dip in the Ala Wai canal.
May it ever be so.
Rev. T. J.