I picked up my beautiful friend, Jen, from the airport in Hilo. She brought with her ti leaf from O'ahu that she picked from her yard. She also brought a beautiful lei and pa'akai, or salt. I picked up ʻōlena, pork and a sweet potato. On the way up to Volcano, we stopped on the side of the road and assembled the pūʻolo.
We made our way up to Halema'uma'u. The hōʻailona was supposed to be the manu li'ili'i, the little bird, to find the right spot along the crater to offer. Jen also knew that along with akua Pele, akua Kanaloa would be present.
We first stopped off of a side road with a trail which runs along the crater. I got out and surveyed the area as I walked to the crater rim. I found a place which had a commanding view of Halema'uma'u with a 300 foot drop. My heart pounded and I was breathless as the cold wind blew me closer to the edge as I looked down. I wasn't sure if this was the place so we decided to try further up by the lookout. We drove up and we stopped at the Jaggar Museum lookout. We saw a sparrow land right in front of our car. As we got out, the bird took flight. We watched it for awhile. It went into a nearby tree then flew off down the Chain of Craters Road. We would have followed the bird but the road was blocked and closed due to the ongoing sulfur dioxide plume at Halema'uma'u Crater. We decided to go back to the previous location.
We parked and got out of the car. There was a light cold rain and the wind was very blustery and cold. We hiked towards the edge of the crater, stopping to listen to every bird song we heard, trying to catch site of the birds fluttering from ʻōhiʻa tree to ʻōhiʻa tree, to find our spot.
Before we knew it, we ended up at the edge of the crater. We walked further up until we both found the perfect spot. A beautiful kipuka of blue sky opened up above Halema'uma'u, the first sign of blue in a heavily foggy, rainy and cloudy day. It was our sign. The site was prominent and there was a small flat light colored pohaku in which to place the ho'okupu. The only problem was that it was precariously close to the edge with a 600 foot drop on crumbly columns of unstable cliff with giant fractures.
Jen took the ho'okupu and headed towards the cliff as the kipuka of blue sky closed. The vision of her plummeting down frightened me and I grabbed the ho'okupu and headed towards the spot. Between the loose cinder and the giant crack between us and the column of lava, I slowly crouched down and crawled out to the rock after Jen and I took a swig of the Gin. My heart pounded and I was terrified the ground below me would give way and I would plummet to my death as the cold wind pushed me from behind. I could feel the Gin working quickly as the warm sensation spread throughout my throat. I carefully placed the bottle of Gin and the beautiful ho'okupu. Then crawled and scurried back to safety as quick as I could, heart still pounding and thankful for another day of life.
We held hands. We offered a pule to Ke Akua, na kupuna, na 'aumakua, akua Pele. We chanted together seeking guidance from the ancestors. We chanted an 'oli kahea. We cried all the way through moved by the overwhelming sacred spirit of it all. Jen sobbed and showed the most beautiful fragile humility. When we finished, Jen saw akua Pele in the column of smoke rising from the pit of Halema'uma'u.
Then we both witnessed two beautiful Koa'e Kea, or white tailed tropic birds, with long streaming tails, gently emerge from the thick smoke and fog over the crater and glide effortlessly straight towards us. No sooner than they came close to us, they turned and faded back from whence they came. We both cried and embraced. The hōʻailona and acknowledgment was so powerful. We later connected the koa'e with Kanaloa, and his presence. And then with Pai'ea. Kamehameha. Everything made sense. Profound beautiful sense. Since we both took a swig of Gin and were exhausted emotionally from crying, we slowly and carefully moved away from the edge of the crater. Mahalo piha e Ke Akua. Mahalo pumehana e na kupuna. Mahalo nō e na 'aumakua. Mahalo piha akua Pele a me akua Kanaloa. Aloha piha e Pai'ea. Mahalo piha e Jen for you beautiful spirit. Mahalo piha to my beautiful mother for keeping your little boy from falling over the side of the cliff. I love you immensely. You carried the message for me from the ancestors about moe pu'u...