On the morning of Saturday, October 14, 2017, with the sun shining brightly and the trade-winds blowing rather gustily, 170 expectant folks of all ages, beliefs and ethnicities, gathered for Journeys to Wellness VI at the green campus of the Community Church of Honolulu.
They had come for inspiration, information and community support that would encourage and enrich their lives. They sought wellness of their body, mind and spirit. And they wanted practical counsel and kokua. They were not disappointment.
From the opening ceremony at 8:30 am that included the chanting of the Oli by Rev. Kekapa Lee and the Sacred Creative Dance by Sr. Yoo Soo Kim, M.M., to the Summation Session at 2:00 pm led by David Laeha, they were offered a wide range of events. It began with the keynote address entitled, “Aging: A Doctor’s Perspective” by John Houk, M.D., widely respected primary care internist. He shared poignant stories of persons choosing wellness in the face of enormous challenges. With gentleness, he issued the charge that while aging is inevitable, aging well is a choice each of us makes daily. He offered insights into wellness and practical prescriptions for wellness that are readily available for our choosing and practicing.
His talk was responded by three sensitive souls from diverse paths: Puanani Burgess, noted cultural translator, lecturer and poet; Rev. Dr. Jayaprakash (JP) Sabbithi, board-certified chaplain and current Director of Counseling Services at Hospice Hawai`i, and Rev. Dr. Teruo Kawata, theologian, pastor and UCC Hawaii Conference Minister Emeritus. They moved us with their positivism and courage. This was followed by an open discussion.
Then came the presentation of the Puaka`ana o ka lā (Rise Up!) Awards that annually recognizes those individuals who have made a significant contribution toward the promotion of wellness of the body, mind and spirit to our community. This year’s awardees were Nancy Aleck, who recently retired after serving 13 years as executive Director of Hawai`i’s People Fund, keynote speaker, Dr. John Houk, and Dave Shoji, University ofHawai`i Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach for 42 years. In tribute to them, Sherwood Chock sang, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Following a brief break, eight workshops on different paths to wellness were offered. They and their facilitators include: Spirituality and End of Life Issues, Rev. JP Sabbithi; Building the Beloved Community with Storytelling, Puanani Burgess; Sacred Paths of Energy Healing, Ruey Ryburn, Ph.D.; Writing and the Coming Together of Body, Mind & Spirit, Jimmy Toyama; Purification, Art, Beauty and Nutrition, Norman Oshiro and MOA staff & volunteers; Secrets on Reclaiming Your Health, Leslie Sharp; Reiki: Healing Through Balance, Rosemary & Alan Goto; Stress Transformation, Sr. Bitrina Kirway, M.M. You may read the impact these workshops had on their participants in the report that compiled the results of 67 feedback sheets that were submitted by attendees at the close of the event. It can be found below this article.
The hour-long workshops were offered twice, at 10:45 am and 1:00 pm. While they were happening, Chad Imano offered free massage treatments to all comers. They came non-stop and left with blissful smiles!
Between the workshops was lunch. As it was at the five previous Journeys to Wellness, the lunch offered by reputable chef and restaurateur, Sarah Loui, was an absolute delight. There was not a single disappointed “customer”. All enjoyed the taste and textures of the fresh, healthy, balanced and carefully crafted dishes.
Then, following the second presentation of the workshops, the participants re-convened in the sanctuary for the Summation Session to offer their mana`o. A distinctive spirit of gratitude and reverence pervaded the place. Also felt was the refreshing wind from Nu`uanu Valley blowing through the sliding doors. Revived after a full day, one by one, those gathered stood to share from their heart that day’s awakening experience. The event concluded with the Circle of Aloha and a blessing from Kahu Ron Williams.
A new hope for the future had emerged.