I was sitting in a bar near Kihei on Maui with two beautiful Hawaiian women — sisters. The place was loud with rock ‘n roll and blues, and we drank a few beers.

“I think you need a Hawaiian name,” said one. “‘Daniel,’ you know, could be ‘Kaniela.'”

“Hmmm, yes he looks like a Kaniela,” said the other sister after a moment’s thought, “but maybe….” She paused, her dark eyes drilling down to something more important.

She asked: “So who were you named after?”

“Well, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, from the Bible,” I replied, speaking from the shy child inside me.

“Yes, I thought so,” the second sister said. I knew this one less well than the first, but she was very intuitive (they both were) — and willing to take a few risks. “And what was Daniel from the Bible like?” she asked.

“He was a soothsayer. He was an interpreter of dreams. He was a courageous man, but he wasn’t just a courageous fool. He could see into things.” I said something like this, although I cannot remember exactly.

“Then you are not Kaniela,” the second sister continued. “That is just a phonetic transcription of Daniel. You are Kaniala.”

The first sister, said “Yes, that’s right” and smiled.

“And what’s the difference?” I asked, in my introverted, mild embarrassment.

“Kaniela is just a name,” the second sister told me. “Kaniala means ‘caller to the path.'”

And so it is. I smiled, too. It was right.

My Hawaiian dictionary has long paragraphs on both kani (a cry) and ala (a path). I look at these words, associated as they are in my mind with the feminine beauty of the Islands and with my own personal journey to fulfill my purpose, and am ever so grateful to the sisters.

What a gift

that we should hold for one another

a deeper name

even as we know

no name will ever do.