We call these past eleven years our, walk of faith. On the tropical Hawaiian Islands, that has meant sleeping on beaches in tents (thirteen tents and eleven air mattresses); eating oranges, avocados, and mangoes that fell from tree to ground (on the street side of the fences)--and being led, always, by the ancestors.
Return Voyage, in these past seven months, has taken that walk of faith up a notch. We have criss-crossed this enormous continent in a gifted Camry: we have needed gas; we have needed motels. In every breath we are guided by unseen, spiritual benevolence. We are constantly grateful.
As 'Iokepa says: "Our survival depends on it."
Return Voyage participants sometimes wonder how that works.
Here's a recent story.
Friends in Albuquerque planned to take us sightseeing on their day off - a Saturday. They gave us travel guides and several choices. We chose Bandolier National Monument: A cave-dwelling ancient pueblo. It was a two-hour drive. We missed one turn-off, and we were delayed.
We were driving down a large highway in the far right lane. 'Iokepa was driving; I was in the front passenger seat; our friends sat behind us. A Honda SUV approached immediately to our left.
A dark-haired woman in the back seat of the Honda began pointing aggressively at 'Iokepa. I studiously ignored her. (People often stare--or point--at his thick, silver, mid-back length hair.) This woman grew more animated.
I thought that perhaps we had a flat tire. 'Iokepa knew that we did not.
Finally, this woman rolled down her window. 'Iokepa looked over.
He recognized her - and her driver husband - at once
This couple (touring visitors to the exact place we were headed) were, remarkably, friends of ours from Kaua'i. We'd eaten dinner in their home, just one week before we left the Islands last September 5, to begin this Return Voyage tour.
'Iokepa and Dave both pulled to the edge of the highway, slammed on their brakes, and all of us (friends of friends, relatives of friends) leaped from the two cars. Fast and furiously, we exchanged hugs -and stories. We'd been out of communication in these intervening months.
Unknown to us, this couple had accepted a job that mandated a move from Kaua'i to Santa Fe -a month after we'd left the Islands. Unknown to them, we were in Albuquerque until Monday, when we were headed to Arizona.
We exchanged phone numbers, continued on our way, and then returned to Albuquerque.
They called the next day. They wanted us to hold a Return Voyage gathering in their new home, "though we don't know anyone at all - we're so new here." We said: "We're headed for Arizona tomorrow - we can't."
Anyway, it seems that the ancestors didn't go to all that trouble - -didn't laugh up their collective sleeves while they moved us around like puppets - for nothing.
So the story unfolds. The next day, the Arizona Return Voyage gathering postponed - re-scheduled a week later. Our friends (who knew no one in Santa Fe) hosted that gathering in their home, and filled it beyond capacity. This was so obviously supposed to happen - that it couldn't be anything but easy.
And that is how our, walk of faith works.