My last day on the beach in Kauai was spent doing what I love to do. Watching the ocean, listening to the waves and trying to permanently imprint Hanalei Bay on my soul so I can go there when the world just seems too much. As I was sitting on the sand, eating rambutons, I noticed one of the local beach dogs running down the beach, stopping every so often to visit with someone, wag his tail and move on. This would not have been anything out of the ordinary except for what happened next. A gentleman picked up a coconut that had fallen on the beach, and tossed it playfully into the water. The dog, eager for a game, went right in the surf after it. When it bobbed to the surface, he picked it up in his mouth, and brought it back to the man like a good retriever does. After a few more tosses, and laughter from those watching, the man waved goodbye to the dog, and went on his way. The dog stood there with the coconut in his mouth and watched longingly after the man for several minutes. He then, slowly, put it down, nosed it a few times, and then slowly, solemnly, left the beach. The game was over.
Were it not for what had been happening in my heart at the time, I probably would feel no need to write about such an event, but the Lord was teaching me something... and I had to wait for it. See, my heart has been hopelessly in love with Hawaii since my first visit when I was seven. I cannot explain the connection I have with that place... it is not one of merely enjoying a vacation or even the beauty - although I've done both endlessly. It is forever a part of my soul and the completion to a promise I felt the the Lord spoke to my tender heart when I was young: "I'll take you back." I cry like I've lost a love every time I have to leave for it feels that I'm having to give it up - to relinquish the dream for yet one more season of time. For those that know me well, my dream is not a secret or hard to imagine.... I'd love to pitch my tent in the land of Aloha. It is truly the only place where I feel I can exhale.
So, I'm sitting on the beach, with the other half of my family in SC, and I'm watching this scene play out and I realize - I've been chasing the dream for more than half of my life. Every so often, life throws my dream in the water and says, "maybe." I've been pulling that coconut out of the water for over 2 decades and handing it to people that I felt would understand. Some laughed, some have played along, but mostly they've just watched as I've faithfully gone to the water. But this time, this day on the beach in Kauai, I realized it was time to lay down my coconut, my dream, and go home. It was time to be with the rest of my family and learn that contentment lies in the heart, not in a place or even in a way that place makes you feel. All I know is that the game was over...and picking it up time and time again just seemed like a lost cause.
Will I stop loving my sweet Hanalei Bay or how the plumeria wind fills my lungs with rest and breath after months of gasping? No. I pray that one day, I'll be granted the desire of my heart to return, but for now, I may just have to get used to the idea that rest needs to be found in another place - another Person. That's hard... that's over 2 decades hard. Dreams are a wonderful thing, until you have to put them to bed and tuck them in tight - especially when they are attached to a still small voice. They struggle like a willful child not wanting to be swaddled. So, if you see me, and I'm restless, just be patient... I'm trying to figure out how to lay down the coconut and make it back home.
Tara is Greg's girl, mom to two sons of thunder, a hunger fighter, big dreamer and worship pastor at seacoast church.