Catholic Things

To the End of the World and Back


For probably about a week and a half, I was away from the desk. And there’s a good reason why.

I was in Hawaii with my aunt and uncle!

Our view before hiking down to a black sand beach.

And while we were there, I wanted to be as present as possible. Which meant that I wanted to leave work behind for a while.

We had gone to one of the other Hawaiian islands with my grandmother back in June. But we had to cut that trip due to a family emergency back at home.

So my aunt and uncle took me back. And this time, we were actually able to stay for the full time!

Before we get into how God worked this trip, let’s talk about some of the things we did.

Our view before climbing down to a green sanded beach.

We were flying basically from one side of the country to the other. Which means that travel there at least half a day. The same can be said for the travel back home.

But some of the things we did include petroglyphs, seeing a sea arch, going to a volcano, driving up Mauna Kea, stargazing, beaches (black sand, green sand, and normal sand), a luau, hiking, a boat ride/snorkeling, and going to the southern most point of the United States (also dubbed “The End of the World).

Me at the southern most point of the United States (The End of the World).

And several of the places we went were really beautiful. The sunsets were astonishingly gorgeous, the water was spectacularly blue, the sun shone beautifully through the grass, the waves crashed against the shore, and the stars shone brightly.

But behind all of the exercise, sunbathing, driving, and other things we did, there was something at work.

Or should I say someone.

Before we left for the trip, I was in an odd spot in my relationship with God and my faith. I prayed daily, went to Mass on Sundays and sometimes during the week, and I went to Confession on a regular basis.

But something was still missing.

I found myself not entirely believing what I feel I should believe as a Catholic.

I would pray and sometimes feel God’s presence while in prayer. I could see the beauty in the rituals the Church has. I could understand why we do certain things. But my heart wasn’t entirely in it.

Sure, my heart’s been invested in my faith before, but I was at a low point.

So I decided to do something about it.

I went to Confession and Adoration the Monday before we were set to leave for Hawaii.

I remember thinking that if God didn’t work while at Adoration, He might while we were out in Hawaii.

The last beach we visited before flying home.

And I think He took that as an invitation.

Because He definitely worked while we were out there.

And He started as soon as we got there. Because when we were waiting for our luggage to come off the plane, I remember thinking: “I hope Heaven is like this [Hawaii].”

And then on Sunday, my aunt and I went to Mass while my uncle went to go find a church to attend. And a thought reoccurred to me: the universality of the Catholic Church. The Mass we attended was the same core structure and words that we’d hear in Western Kentucky. Or anywhere else in the world (even through language barriers).

But at the end of Mass, they had some of the women come up and perform a native dance to a song. This showed us that while the Mass is pretty much the same wherever in the world, the Church still reaches out to the cultures she encounters.

While all of this is great, there was something even greater waiting for me.

Before coming on this trip, I knew logically that God must exist because that’s what I’ve been taught and there are certain things in my life that cannot be explained any other way.

But I struggled with truly believing that God is real and He is very much alive.

But on Monday, Nov. 26, He changed that.

We had gone out to the volcano that day, as well at the sea arch and petroglyphs.

The Sea Arch.

Well, God decided that evening to very loudly exclaim that He is indeed real and very much alive.

How did He do that? you ask.

He painted the sky like this:

The sunset that started changing things.

And the picture doesn’t do it justice.

But the real-life sunset had colors that I didn’t even knew existed. And as we drove afterwards, I became overwhelmingly aware of God’s exclamation to me of His existence and being alive.

And I was kind of surprised by this.

And since then, prayer has changed (even if it’s only bit at this point).

I’ve started to pause briefly to pause at the beginning of prayer (or during prayer) to recognize that God is indeed real and present. And I’ve started to talk to God, recognizing His reality.

And there’s something I noticed in looking back.

The sun shining through the grass at the petroglyph site.

Remember how I said that I had thought that if God didn’t work while at Adoration, maybe He would while we were in Hawaii? Well, I might’ve told God that. (I can be forgetful, and my memory isn’t always the best, so I can’t say for certain.)

But God took that invitation/hope/thought and ran with it.

Not only did He run with it, but He took it seriously.

He took a soul that wasn’t the best and showed it some of what He can do.

The sunset from atop Mauna Kea.

And I think that’s a pretty great place to start Advent, the season of waiting for Christ’s coming.



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