Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Wailea Wonder"

Please bear with me for one more reflection from Maui. This one comes from Wailea Beach (considered by some to be the best beach in the US!). We had gotten there early in the day, had laid down our mats and had even taken the first swim before the beach started to fill. As I let the sun dry the saltwater off my body I began to people-watch in earnest.

Soon my attention was centered on the neighbors to our right, who appeared to be enjoying a family reunion. There were about 6 or 7 adults and an equal number of children between the ages of 5 and 12, all boys. While the adults chatted, sharing morning coffee and family memories, the boys ran into the water. They splashed and wrestled, laughed and swam with abandon. And all the while, they were watched.

One by one the adults in that family took turns providing safety and security for the children. They took about 20 minute shifts, and everyone - aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandparents even - took their turn. If the wrestling got a little too wild or the teasing too intense, the guardian would shift the play. If someone ventured a little too far from shore or became a little too oblivious to their surroundings, again the guardian would caution and correct.

As I watched I got to thinking: "Every child should be so loved and protected." It is true - every child deserves the kind of safety and security - the kind of love - which those boys undoubtedly took for granted. It was a wonder to watch.

Later that same day the surf grew and the current intensified. The boys were still in the water, and it was time for a guardian shift change, when the youngest child fell off his boogie board and was hit by a wave. First he was smashed into the sand and then the current picked him up and dragged him out to the line of the next cresting wave. You could see the panic in his eyes as he struggled against the surf. I was just about on my feet when another neighbor - a stranger to the family - reached the boy, scooped him up and brought him back to safety on the sand.

Of course everyone was a little shaken, and grateful for the quickness of the neighbor. And I thought to myself: "Maybe it is possible for every child to be loved and protected. It is possible if we remember we all are neigbors." What a wonder that would be - in Wailea, in the whole wide world.

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