An Uncommon Kindness


Last night, I couldn't sleep.  I lay for a long time, hearing the sound of waves in my head and longing for a place it is not possible for me to be right now.  After awhile, I got up and pulled an image (taken by my friend Reid Fujita) up on the computer.  Once in awhile, a photograph calls to me in a different way from most. I end up spending a lot more time on those images.  I liken it to a kind of music... but it is a difficult feeling to describe.  The longer I worked on it, the more I could hear it.  But it wasn't until I finished it, around 5 am this morning, that I saw a face in the crest of that wave.  It immediately brought to mind a story of Hawaii.  A story I am sure many of you have never heard.  A story about one man; a selfless man who cared for a forgotten Hawaiian people in a way most in his time... never did.  His work was carried on after his death, by a nun from Syracuse, New York named Mother Marianne.  That connection is not lost on me. It gave Father Damien great comfort and allowed him to let go of this earth, knowing the people he had come to love, would continue to be loved and cared for by her and would never be forgotten.  This is his story, and my own artistic tribute to someone I admire with everything in me.  It is also my way of thanking Reid for allowing me to combine my creative vision, with his. When I return to Hawaii next year... I want to visit Molokai and kneel at the gravesite of this remarkable man.  He always said, "Praise God, not me."  There is no place on this earth where I feel more able to do that... than on the islands of Hawaii.  I do believe it was the same for this man and it is his face I see in Reid's wave.

Father Damien's Story

Ghandi: "The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare to Father Damien of Molokai.  It is worthwhile to look for the source of such heroism."

Franklin D. Roosevelt:  "As a small boy I remember the forceful lesson which was brought to all by the death of this saintly man.  This lesson of self denial taught by Father Damien will never grow old."

Mother Teresa: "Love... to be true, must empty us of selfishness.  This is what Father Damien understood so well and what he lived.. every day."

Both of these images will now hang in a tiny cottage on the shores of Lake Ontario, as a reminder to me of the rich history of a people and a place, six thousand miles away from me... but ever present in my heart.