The word Malama arrived into my consciousness as I walked in the gentle rain of an afternoon storm while I was on the island of Maui. Inspired to do an online search to find out more about this melodically curious word, I found Mālama. It was described as to take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect at I also found reference to the Kings Trail-Malama Petroglyph Trail on the Big Island, where unbeknownst to me at the time, I would be visiting in the days ahead. I tucked this information between the cracks of my mind to be tended like a germinating seed, trusting its readiness to emerge in fruition when the timing was right.


When the usually night swimming Manarays appeared on the way out to the morning dolphin swim, I knew this would be a special day. With awe, we watched their graceful black forms silhouetted against the muted aqua waters from above on the boat. Once invited, I slipped into their magical home, the coolness of the silky smooth waters seeping into the layer between my skin and the wetsuit. Merging with the same water that touched their skin, I felt included in the rhythms of their hypnotic dance. These dark angels of the sea with their impressive twelve foot wing span floated by in virtual silence as they glided through the water. Their baleen mouths, as big as the opening atop a basketball hoop, open sharing their secrets of living in the depths. Caressing the water effortlessly with their wings, arcing around and swimming back towards us as if they were consciously creating endless streams of connection. I was intrigued by their inaudible communication, unity, and harmony with their environment.

Back on land, I was feeling content with the morning surprises and satisfied with the usual post dolphin swim fresh fish midday meal at the nearby marina restaurant. As Sharon and I contemplated which direction to take for the afternoon adventure, I recalled the message being tapped into me by the rainwater, a few days earlier. It Perhaps those same rain drops that penetrated the crown of my head under the Maui rainbow, were also absorbed into the ocean where I encountered the manarays along the Kohala coast, and also rolled off the parched pahohoe lava flow a few miles away, drawing us to go north towards the Malama Trail. I was opening to the unity of nature guiding me along my way, the journey unfolding one step at a time.


Between the Waikoloa shopping center parking lot and the Malama trail, I read several signs warning about the heat along the trail and the importance of wearing sturdy shoes. At first I was concerned since all I had was my croc flip-flops, but I decided to go ahead anyways since I felt Spirit led.

Sacred sounds rode in on scorching heat waves of tropical afternoon island winds. Stirred by ancestral wisdom imprinted in the grooves of etched lava rock carvings. The message clear and distinct in the penetrating heat as if it was being baked and pressed into shapes of English language letters by the breath of Pele. Words spoken to me rhythmically through the form of an elder Hawaiian Kahuna wearing his white tapas robe and good luck Ti leaves headdress. Steadied by his walking stick, as if it alone was holding him there. As I sat resting in the field of Malama petroglyphs, he stood behind me pausing in the deafening heat to be sure that I heard the words clearly enough to take action on them. “Let each step inform the next,” he spoke softly. This became my mantra as I walked upon the sacred ground.


Perhaps those same words were drummed deep into the volcanic rocks by the hooves of earlier horses and mules who toted humans and cargo along this portion of the thirty two mile Kings Trail. History says that those who rode the trail often slept, since the ledges of rocks on either side of the grooved trail provided discipline for the horse’s feet moving them forward one step at a time. Humans trusting horses, horses trusting humans, for certain letting each step inform the next.

This section of the trail between the rising volcano to the east and the cool crisp ocean to the west was a gathering and resting spot for generations. Feeling like it was an honor for me to be there, I treated my time as if it were an extended prayer. With reverence I followed the pace of my breath and my body with a compassionate heart. Footsteps rhythmic and consistent like a mantra being sung to keep my mind focused on being open to the power of the present moment.

Upon my last step along the path, I turned and waved goodbye to the Spirit Elder who has joined me for that afternoon’s education. I was thankful in the beginning that I was still enough to listen and hear, thankful in the middle for the experience and the opportunity to be an environmental steward by picking up trash that had blown into the trail area, and thankful at the end for being sensitive to the wind, and the water, and the sun, and the stones for teaching me and showing me the way.

When you let each step inform the next, synchronicities unfold in unison with your soul path. It is precisely the breathing in of the scents and sounds and sensations of the present moment that carry you forward with the impulse of all creation. May you find peace, poise, and power as you walk along your sacred path letting each step inform the next.

We invite you to walk the Malama trail with us during our Dolphin Light Retreat November 11-14, 2013 on the Big Island of Hawaii. Visit for more information and to register.