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  • Reverend James Squire


It is heart breaking to see the devastation that the fire and wind have caused on Hawaii. The Beatles lyric came quickly to my mind. “There are places I’ll remember all my life. Though some have changed. Some forever but not for better. Some have gone and some remain.” Places have their moments. I phoned a friend whose sister lives in Hawaii this morning to see how her sister who had just had a hip replacement was affected. She lived on another island. Other friends and colleagues are safe.

My concern was more directly focused on Maui because some places do have a place card in our lives usually because we have a shared purpose with the place and the people that is often characterized as intense. Schools are often those places that become place guards in our memories. Because students are in their key developmental phase, they remember more than you would think about their time at school. This is true for faculty as well. My heart and soul are filled with memories of EA. But this is true for my time spent and memories at the Seabury Hall School on Maui.

Lance Cave, then Head of Science, and I had a keen interest in developing an interdisciplinary

program combining Ecology and Religion by yoking EA with a school that was located in a biologically diverse part of the world. Religion and Ecology Programs were the forerunners of the need to address climate change. It turns out that place of greatest biodiversity was Maui. It is a small island that is home to seven microclimates. In a short period of time, you can be in a rain forest and then move quickly into desert like conditions. There was a live volcano that we climbed early one morning. I still recall being close enough to see the glow and heat of the lava.

We presented a proposal to The Seabury Hall School on Maui. They invited Lance and me to come and explore the possibilities that we thought would be worth the effort. You can go online and see the campus of Seabury Hall before the devastation. It was a paradise. I still remember the buildings, people and place. I was teased by the faculty who asked why I couldn’t find the biodiversity needed in the city. That is actually a whole other needed approach.

Lance and I left early one Thursday morning to make the sixteen hours flight. We had to be back by noon on Monday because of another important meeting that was scheduled. I knew the effort would be worth it. I would not recommend that short a trip for thirty two hours of travel. I don’t remember sleeping. We were in constant meetings. We were heavily invested in having the program work out.

We left Sunday evening on the same plane as the SMU football team who had just played the University of Hawaii. It was midnight. They were complete gentlemen, got off the plane at 8 in Dallas. According to their coaches, they would be going directly to class.

When Lance and I returned we continued negotiations with Seabury Hall. We failed to get the deal done and launch what I hoped to be national model of ecology and religion. So why this anecdote? We remember places as well where we don’t get what we want. I learned once again that at times the most powerful memories are when you give something everything that you have and don’t get what you want. “Learn to fail or fail to learn.”

But I learned something else which is why the memory of my time there with the people and place is so strong. Each night we would have dinner on the beach. It was a feast of fresh caught fish and wonderful fruit. We were surrounded by pure beauty. It took your breath away. I asked the people from The Seabury School what they did on a Friday night. They looked around at the surrounding beauty and smiled. What about next week? They looked around with that same glow of appreciation and said, “Same!” I didn’t say anything, but I looked around and thought to myself, “I couldn’t do that.”

Regarding my comment, “I couldn’t do that.” I think that Yogi Berra, legendary baseball player, manager, and man of great wisdom said it best. “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” Each of his famous sayings caused people to think. I recently watched a documentary of his life called, It Ain’t Over on Prime Video. I know nothing about baseball, but I do know an ethical life when I see it. Yogi Berra is one of my heroes. He knew how to win and he knew how to lose. His life is a model for us today. It is a much-needed perspective! If I were still teaching Ethics, my students would certainly see it. You can’t watch it and not be changed for the better.

Remember those 100 SMU football players who got on the plane with me who were the embodiment of gentlemen/students. They were predicted to beat the University of Hawaii. They lost!

Learn to fail or fail to learn. Pray for the people affected by the devastation.

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