Return to the Banyan Tree

Community Contributed

Opinion by Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa

I was the first to arrive at the venerable old tree. I had wanted to assure myself of a good seat before they had all sold out to the eager masses. Soon they all began to arrive, in ones and twos, on foot, in cars, vans and trucks. It was like the prelude to a football game. Then he approached the grassy verge of the banyan’s shelter, flanked by Dr. Wasserman and Baron Chan. It was like a reenactment of the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain all over again. Ken Seamon, our administrator, had abandoned his golf club and armed himself with a clip board. It was game time.

We had gathered on March 15 to hear the good news (if any) from the Dept. of Health representatives. I had hoped that we could dispense with our masks completely but that was not to be. While we would not have to wear a mask outdoors, we would still have to do so indoors in the usual places. Thank the Lord for the clean air of outdoor Kalaupapa enabling us to flush out our lungs. The good news of the presentation is that we can now have visitors to our blessed shores of Kalaupapa but on a limited basis. For example, we residents can now sponsor four visitors at a time rather than the previous six. Visitors must fill out an application and provide proof of full vaccination ahead of time. Authorities just love to give us the needle in these times. Sponsors must ensure that all these requirements are met. I may need to hire (or conscript) a secretary.

It was now question time and many questions were directed to the Dept. of Health in regard to these new policies and directives. So, I figured it was now my chance to air my question. Although this is the season of lent, and Jesus has said, “Not on bread alone does one live,” I stood up and asked, “When do we get our bread?” Then what happened to me some 59 years ago in the seminary, happened again when I was reminded that this was not the subject at hand and that I should sit down. I did so politely and we were told that the problem is being worked on. I hope so, since 12 months is a long time to go without bread and it is especially difficult to make a tuna sandwich without bread.

After this interaction there was some laughter, then the questions and conversation reverted to the subject of COVID and the new policies in that regard. So, since Ken seems to enjoy giving me the needle, I asked whether one would have to wear a mask while hitting golf balls alongside him. He replied, “No, but one should keep one’s distance.” I’m suggesting to Ken that he acquire an Irish golden retriever to find and collect all the balls he sprays all over the ball field. I would volunteer to do it myself if there was a promise of some generous tips. See you next month under the banyan tree. Aloha.


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