In Old Honolulu
Author: Shiloh


On the corner of Victoria and Beretania Streets,
at 21 degrees north and 157 degrees west,
there was a bit of heaven on earth,
hidden away, and known only to a few
who had stumbled upon it quite by chance.

No signs pointed the way,
in fact, pains were taken to disguise its presence
from those too hurried to see it as they passed by,-
going from one room of paintings to another of artifacts,-
and most, if they wondered at all,
would think it was just a way to a yard...
but the doorway led to so much more,
opening to quiet beauty that easily outshone
the items on display within the museum.

It was an open courtyard,
small, quiet, barely thirty feet on a side,
with plants and small trees and shrubs
growing all around...
an Eden, in the midst of Babel.
The walls were smooth,
possibly a type of marble,
though more gray than mottled,
but you could see, if you looked closely,
the tiny red and blue veins of the stone.

The tropical sun shone down
into the courtyard,
but with the foliage and the semi darkness within,
it was cool there, and you didn't feel the heat
that was beyond the inner courtyard.
In one corner there was a small pool,
water traveling from another courtyard
beyond the wall, where it connected to another --

There were three courtyards in all,
as an odd number was more powerful in meaning,
and three was better than five, in attitude,
as greed was not an admired quality.

There were benches made for two, or for one alone,
placed apart, so as not to intrude on another;
each space a world of peace and tranquility unto itself,
and each courtyard a haven from the rush and hurry
that dominated the sidewalks and streets beyond.

I remember so well the vines, the leaves as big as platters,
and the soft sounds of my steps in the gravel paths,
and the cool quiet -- that was perhaps the single most impressive thing
that made the place what it was...
it was like walking in the middle of a comfortable pillow.

Within a small museum they had arranged three small courtyards
where the visitor could pause and relax,
and have a place to reflect on those things on display
within their own minds,
as well as those things on display within the walls.

It was a good combination of visual and mental,
and the resulting soothing calm from the courtyards
was better for the person within,
than the services of any doctor of body or mind.

As emotional as the continuous rhythm of the surf,
these courtyards were medicine that no value could be attached to.
And, for the child who freely wandered the museum,
then found the enchantment within those walls,
and understood the reasons for the courtyards,
and respected them, even then...
it was a great epiphany, enlightening...

It was an experience of a lifetime,
and I have kept that bit of learning with me
more than half a hundred years,
since that time of childhood innocence...
When today things have pushed me to a certain point,
and I needed the peace and tranquility
of those cool pathways once more,
I have often gone back to that time in 1955,
to once again wander those small courtyards...

Sitting there in my mind,
again surrounded by the old harmony,
I joined my childhood with the present
just long enough to be refreshed once more.

I wish that I could share this place with you.


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