I had never been to Hawaii when a good friend suggested we commemorate our 50th birthdays with a trip to the 50th State. We flew through the night with the vast Pacific ocean below indistinguishable from the star- filled sky above until daylight separated the two on the horizon. Eventually we spied specks of land poking up from the water and landed on Maui.

Through the week we watched a majestic sunrise over Haleakala, hiked among exotic plants serenaded by tropical birds, laughed as humpback whales breached and slapped their fins and tails, climbed down rocky cliffs to splash around in pristine tide pools, snorkeled with sea turtles and fish darting in and out of coral, and braved a rain shower to explore lava flows with tiny plants just starting to get a foothold after the last volcano eruption in the 17th century.

Watching sunset our final night, I felt content, humbled and grateful. Were the earliest days on earth something like this?  Combined with the island people’s most generous hospitality, I was deeply consoled as I recalled the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. The love we seek to attain in this prayer is not God’s already and constant outpouring of love for us, but our love for God, moving us to a desire to offer of our life in response.

Could I really imagine that the Divine Majesty had been laboring since the first moments of the universe to shower this particular time of grace on me?

The sick and their caretakers in today’s gospel believed they only needed to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak to be healed. During my vacation I had been wrapped in the cloak of creation, was restored and ready to continue along my journey into the second half of life.

—Jenéne Francis, is Provincial Assistant for Pastoral Ministries, Chicago-Detroit Province and Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus