Pearls for a New Year

An underwater volcano, Home Reef, sprouted into a baby island in the Pacific Ocean close to Tonga in September 2022. It grew from 1 acre to more than 8 acres and is 50 feet above sea level. What else grows so robustly?

Actually, more than 80% of Earth’s landmass has volcanic origins from billions of years ago. Most islands have volcano parents. The remaining non-volcanic islands are the result of tectonic plates shifting and lifting up ocean flooring above the water’s surface.   

The relatively newcomer Hawaiian Islands were babies from volcanoes just 5-7 million years ago. Experts suggest that Hawaii’s first people were Polynesian and arrived around 400 AD. Prior to the existence of this human paradise, 30+ bird species – now extinct – vacationed and settled on the islands. Smithsonian researchers, husband-and-wife team Storrs Olson and Helen Smith, crawled through lava tubes to discover the bird bones of these species. It is a mystery that many were flightless!  

Currently, Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes on the big island of Hawaii had unusual tandem eruptions in November 2022. The hot volcanoes pushed molten energy around like a commanding officer ordering troops to deploy in several directions. Volcanic eruptions are not exactly predictable. Who knows what trouble will bubble up next?

My family holiday plans included a trip to Hawaii where my nephew lives. While I was visiting the Lava Land Island, I chose not to witness molten flows firsthand, preferring to discover volcanic mysteries in the safety of the Bishop Museum exhibit on the island of Oahu. I learned that large plumes of hot lava cool as they fire skyward, hardening during their energetic flight. This spectacle of nature spurts volcanic rocks, referred to as volcano “bombs,” helter-skelter.

The peaceful small town of Haleiwa on Oahu offered another amazing ocean feature – thundering, gigantic waves. I watched intrepid surfers often take flight! With dazzling courage, surfers size up the next wave to “catch.” Watching an International Open surfing contest was both thrilling and frightening at the same time, perhaps like the experience of lava chasers on the big island.

Meanwhile, other people prefer flightless water skills in 7-person long canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards.

Thrills and frights — both are present as we set sail on a new year. What are the ways we might paddle together on our blue boat planet which is challenged by global warming and a variety of (wo)man-made risks? Here are a few ideas:

  • Leadership is key. I watched parents tenderly teach children how to stand up on a paddleboard.
  • Solo or group action takes a few guidelines.
  • New skill development involves much practice to paddle effectively.

A native Hawaiian adds this advice: “See oceans not as obstacles, but as pathways, connectors, connecting us with others, our ‘cousins’…here is where to begin.’”

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz

147. What newness do you want for yourself and your planet this year?

148. How do you resolve (intend) to make it happen?

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

1 comment

  1. I can only say, “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork!” What a gift to cherish with awe and to protect.


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