The Day I Lost My Sole
It all started in the morning of April 4 when I went to our Kalaupapa International Airport to meet a plane load of young men and women who were arriving on Saints Damien and Marianne land in order to spend a few days of retreat away from the business of Honolulu’s everyday life. Their demeaners were calm and reflective as they stepped off the plane, befitting the purpose of their coming. That would change somewhat as soon as they hit the town. Later that morning Meli and I returned to the airport, accompanied by two of the young men to collect the cargo of food they would consume in the next few days. It was quite evident by the shipment that these young Christians had not come to fast….at least from food anyway. Of course fasting takes many other forms.
In the morning of the second day they descended on St. Francis Church, armed with brooms, dust cloths, mops and their own youthful energy. They went to work immediately (well almost immediately) dusting, sweeping and washing the interior of our church like it seldom has been done before. They expended much energy in their efforts and shed a lot of perspiration in the process. I was in my house when suddenly two of the young men burst through the door, wearing masks. Initially I thought that they had come to fumigate me but, as I discovered, they had actually come to clean the walls of my bathroom which frequently become afflicted with mold. After they had completed wiping and scrubbing those walls, they emerged unscathed by the chemicals they had used and began cleaning the walls of the living room where the paint had been peeling off, like the whitewash on the walls of an Irish cottage, or some poor quality breakfast corn flakes. These walls had not been very appealing.
The third day dawned bright, sunny and quite warm. Still, instead of swim time, it was time for more service work. So we hit the rocky road to Kalawao (and it hit back) and made our way to St. Philomena, the church built by St. Damien. There the young ladies, led by Meli, swept, dusted and mopped the floor from door to door, while the young men joined me in the graveyard outside in an effort to clean up the graves. It was then that it happened. As I flexed whatever muscles I have left, I felt a pull on my right foot and, on looking down, saw that the sole of my long-serving right shoe was flapping from toe to heel like the wing of a silly goose. These shoes had accompanied me to Kalaupapa 6 years, 9 months and 6 days prior to this day. They had carried me to the Kauhako crater on numerous occasions. Now no string or ribbon could save my sole and by the time we had finished our work, it had departed from my shoe. It had given its all in service. Its work was completed.
The young men and women of Singles for Christ had enjoyed their service days for the Church and the next day we joined them at St. Philomena for Sunday Mass celebrated by their chaplain, Marianist Fr. Patrick McDaid. They sang with great fervor and gusto and, while they had come to Kalaupapa as part of their desire to better themselves and save their souls, they also inspired us resident older ones in our mission to save our own souls and other souls as well. Aloha.
Fr. Pat Killilea ss.cc.
St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Hawaii.