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Our first trip to the Big Island of Hawaii in May 2013 coincided with the awakening of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire. She was sending small rivers of lava down the slopes of Kilauea to the sea, where they sizzled and exploded and steamed and hissed in anger at being awakened.

Our lives have moments of pure awakening, when we experience a place (or a new idea or fresh music or a great book) for the first time. That was our experience in the Kapoho Tide Pools, a wonderful coral reef south of Hilo.

The endearing thing about sea turtles is their grace. Most of us humans are water nerds, graceless and gangly and splashing. In contrast, the sea turtle moves with the cadence of time itself. The swimming is slow and graceful, as if it got extra points for style and poetry of motion.

At one point, a big Manta Ray swung up from the ocean bottom and came directly toward us, with its gaping mouth open, and circled within perhaps a foot of us–not touching any of us. It was a thrill beyond belief for this landlubber from the great Midwest.

We traveled on a small boat along the south coast of the Big Island of Hawaii in order to experience the dramatic natural event of lava flowing into the sea.