It looked so inviting. There between what looked like rocks were two open channels out to the breaking surf. We wondered if we could body surf the break out there or if it would be too strong. There was only one way to find out. We swam to the rocks and saw that they were only concrete replicas of rocks. And the current coming into the channel from the breaking waves was strong, but not strong enough to stop us from continuing on. And as we rested for what was going to be a moment, the entire day changed.
My friend and I were swimming in the human-made lagoons at Ko’Olina. I enjoy the occasional visit to a resort on the island with a friend. It’s a fun way to have a little staycation. And the lagoons were right there, beckoning us to explore them and see how strong the current was. We discovered that below the surface between the boulders were shallow surf breaks, walls constructed a few feet under the surface of the water—as good a place as any to rest our feet…until they weren’t.
The pain was immediate and shocking. When I placed my feet on the wall that was there, a sea urchin or two had beat me to that particular spot. And as I recoiled from the pain and lifted my feet through the water I could feel the spines that had broken or fallen off of my inhospitable neighbor still in my foot. Was this porcupine of the sea teaching me a lesson about venturing where I should fear to tread, all while placidly defending itself and its territory from the likes of me? Maybe, but I had to focus on the work at hand: pulling out the spines.
My friend asked me if I was OK. I responded, no I wasn’t. Then I realized when a doctor asks if you’re OK, they often mean, “Can you move and breathe?” After some moments of calm, I said I was OK and that it just hurt. The next few hours were hugely interesting. The conflicting opinions, even on a small island, about how to care for an injury like this disclosed how even something universal can have many responses. We sorted through the many sources of wisdom, some of which were quite amusing, and arrived at a plan.
Soaking, scrubbing, and then some gentle, expert extractions by my physician friend was how we went. It’s humbling to present an injury to a friend, especially one in an awkward spot. But the gentle touch of healing and the confidence of learning combined to relieve the pain and begin to heal my injury. The adventure might not have been wise. And the pain was no fun. But because of all this, I got to see a healer work. And my vulnerability was met with understanding (and some funny jokes). And somehow from the sources of all medical knowledge, the hands of a healer, and a little bit of patience, I can walk (normally) again..and I even had my sole saved in the process.
And may it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.