The guys go up to get away!

By Chris Directo.

“And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  Isaiah 56:6-7.

Jim, Jeff, Evan and Robbie (l-r) wait in the Volcano National Park visitor center for more brothers to show up to go hiking. (photo by Chris Directo)

Last night, a bunch of men from the church went on a hike near the volcano to spend time with God.

The purpose of the hike was to provide a time for fellowship for the men in the church, and to take the men far away from the worries of every day life and bring them to a place of nature close to our God. 

Personally, I welcomed this type of event. The past couple of weeks had been stressful for me professionally. I’d been feeling like I was so concerned about everything except God. I felt like there was a spiritual volcanic crater in my life, a large chasm separating me from God. I knew that I needed to get away and get to God.

On top of all that, the past couple of days were hard because I’d begun to feel a little under the weather. So last night my heart knew that I needed to go on the hike, but my body was telling me to stay home and rest.

But my stubbornness won out, and I met Jim at his house, and we drove all the way to the Volcano Visitor’s Center to meet the other guys. We purchased some Subway subs and ate on the way. It was cold in the high elevation, but the food in our stomachs helped us keep at least a little warm.
One by one, everyone began to show up. We greeted each other with hugs to warm one another as well as fire each other up about the trek. We looked at all of the maps and displays at the center to familiarize ourselves with the area.

The Kilauea volcano is the most active volcano on Hawai‘i Island right now. We weren’t planning on hiking to the center of the activity. Instead, we planned to walk about a mile from the end of a paved road to Pu‘u Huluhulu, a small hill near the Napau Crater in the park. On this hill is a lookout area where you can see some of the volcanic activity.

We took a couple of cars from the center and drove our group to a side road that ended near some lava rock formed years ago when it devoured the pavement and cooled into roadblock lava rock. The area would’ve been pitch black if not for the bright moonlight, and it would’ve been well lit by the moonlight if not for the tall trees that seemed to consume any light.

Lucky we all brought flashlights.

Jeff, Stefano, Chris, Evan, Levi, Joseph and Jim (l-r) stand on the lookout and admire God’s creation. (photo by Chris Directo)

We walked a hundred yards away from the road, joking around and psyching each other up, probably so that we’d be a lot happier about hiking uphill over uneven lava rock in the darkness and thin air. Or maybe we were just excited to be with each other.

Past the trees was the trail, which wound this way and that, through lava, lava, lava. Cool lava, of course, rocks the size of pebbles to boulders. The moon provided a soothing glow on this rocky terrain.

The trail was mostly lava rock in different forms. Most of the trail was on hard lava rock, while other parts were made of gravel, while other parts were on sharp bits of lava rock that felt like walking on broken glass.

The walk was a long one, so we all had a long opportunity to get to know each other and talk and have a good time. Some of us played word games, sang songs and held meaningful conversations.

At one point, I think I heard Levi bust out with some rapping, while Stefano did some beatboxing.

Was that Robbie I saw doing the wave in the dark?

(I think we started experimenting with hip-hop because we were surrounded by rock.)

(Another sub-purpose of this excursion near the volcano was to fulfill the Biblical command to “lava” one another.)

(Okay, enough lava jokes. I don’t want you to “erupt” in laughter.)

When we got to the base of the hill, the trail looked more like a grassy path. The hill was full of trees and bushes and grass. I didn’t expect it to be so full of life.

The trail looked more alive, but it also got more difficult, as the trail became more steep. I started to really get tired. My legs started to feel like jelly. We all urged each other on.

Once we all reached to top of the hill, God used the moon to show us all that he created all around us. The night was clear, and the mountain was breathtaking.

The men march down the mountain trail from Pu‘u Huluhulu in the moonlight. (photo by Chris Directo)

And just as quickly as we took to catch our breath, the environment began to change. A dense fog covered up the sky and seemed to surround us. We felt like it was just us and God. It was like the fog was telling us that God was there with and all around us.

All we could see was fog, and each other. The feeling was a little eerie, but awesome at the same time.

We all took turns praying to God. We also talked about our personal goals in life.

Right when we finished our fellowship atop the hill and started to prepare for the return hike down, the fog seemed to disappear immediately, and the clear night returned, complete with the moonlight to guide us back.

The hike down was harder than the hike up because of gravity making our steps harder to control on the uneasy terrain, but our hearts were filled with joy that motivated us to move on.

And all us brothers had each other to rely on. And God was right there, too.