On Sunday, I shared with the congregation about several people who found the way against all odds and while facing seemingly unsurmountable challenges. My maternal grandmother Alice was one of those people. Wanting to be an expert in agricultural sciences was her dream as a young girl when she was growing up in rural Montana. Family and friends laughed at her because this was considered “man’s work,” and besides, she would have to go to college and get a degree in agriculture to achieve her goal, and a woman had never done that before, at least not in Montana. To make it even more challenging, there wasn’t even a high school within many miles of the small community of Rockvale where Alice grew up.
Alice, however, was determined to achieve her dreams. She left home at 14 to attend high school and then attended Montana State College (now University) in Bozeman in order to achieve her dream. The only problem was that no organization was willing to hire her after she graduated. It was so entrenched in the culture that agriculture was a “man’s work” that she couldn’t find employment even though she was better qualified than some of the men who did get the jobs.
Alice then met a handsome young man with a decent job, who made her all kinds of promises if she would marry him. About 5 years later, she found herself as a mother of three young children (my mother and two uncles) and married to a completely irresponsible alcoholic who spent most of his money on alcohol and gambling. Alice made clothespin bags in order to make a little money for food for her and the children, and made regular visits to the food bank.
One day, her husband took her for a ride and was in a bad car accident with a train. (Alice wondered for the rest of her life if driving under the influence of alcohol was the reason he didn’t look before crossing the train tracks.) Alice ended up in the hospital with a broken neck and burns all over her body. When she regained consciousness she remembered hearing the doctor tell her family that she would not survive.
I am astounded that my grandmother found her way…out of the hospital…back to college…raising her three children during the Depression…moving to Kauai as the University of Hawaii Extension Services Home Agent and 4H leader.
When Jesus’ disciple Thomas asked, “How can we know the way,” they were entering a fearful, anxious and uncertain time in their lives (and I’m pretty sure we have all been there at least once!). Jesus said in that same passage: “You know the way,” and “I am the way.” These two statements give me tremendous courage because I am reminded that I too know the way, and it is the person of Jesus. I many not know the destination or the path I might travel, but the way of Jesus is my way. It is the way of compassion, grace, light and wisdom. When I am being these things and trusting these things, I know that I am walking in the way of Jesus.
When you are walking through dark times, I invite you to look to Jesus—all that he was and is to this day—and walk in his way; and remember, his words to the disciples still ring true for us: “You know the way.”
Kahu Alan Akana
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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.