This is me, seven years ago. I was on Maui.
This is me, ecstatic because I had experienced something absolutely thrilling and magical. I had just returned from a flight in this small plane which had taken me over the island of Maui, to the Big Island of Hawaii’. I had seen pods of humpback whales from the air. I had witnessed thousand foot cliff waterfalls, lined up row upon row in a gorgeous staircase of creation along Hawaii’s north shore.
But, most magical of all, I had witnessed creation itself, and felt the kiss of Madame Pele. We had flown directly over Kilauea’s active caldera, and along the volcanic coast. The plane shifted violently in the sky, thanks to the massive change in temperature directly below us. It was thrilling. I looked out my window and was filled with wonder. I stared through an opening directly into the red-hot earth below. The hole in the earth’s crust was in the shape of a human heart, the vog (volcanic fog) rose from it in steady clouds making it appear as if it were beating. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life. The hole was certainly large enough to swallow the small plane, but I trusted the pilot to get us through. I had to. I had given up control getting on this flight, something I don’t like to do.
We spent a half hour circling the caldera before flying over the volcanic coast, which stretched in a thick black carpet for miles and miles. We flew over Mauna Loa, and back over the channel to the coast of Maui. Pods of whales again frolicked below us, dolphins miniaturized next to them.
I titled this “One Last Gift” because this plane ride was the last Christmas present that I would ever receive from my beloved grandmother, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Several months later she would pass away unexpectedly in my arms. But, she left me with this amazing gift, the gift of knowing that sometimes you just have to buckle up and let the Pilot do His job. He will get you there safe. He has the expertise that you don’t. And, if you are very lucky, He will fly you over a volcano and show you the secrets of creation itself while you are on the journey.
Thank you for that gift, Grandma Betty. I still miss you and love you every single moment.
(Please note that this photo isn't a photo that I took. We couldn't take photos in the plane. I found this at usgs.gov, but it's pretty close to what I saw. And, in real life, it appears much larger.)