Multi-Cultural Healing on Kauai

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Multi-Cultural Healing on Kauai

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
Oct 07, 2009

This is a picture I took a few years ago when I discovered digital infrared photography and merged it with double exposures in PhotoShop.  Now, my Minolta DiMage7 featuring a whopping 5.2 megapixels languishes in my closet, and I'd long forgotten about this image until I received an email today. 

Dear Friends of Lawai,

Lawai International Center is glowing from the caring hands of helpful volunteers.  Please join us as we nurture the grounds together this Saturday, October 10th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for another sparkling day.  Bring the follow items:

1.  Hand gardening tools (light hand weeders and rakes)

2.  Trucks for on-site hauling

If you will be able to attend this glowing event, please email or call 639-4300.  Thank you for your dear commitment to the center.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Lynn and the Lawai International Center Family

Several years ago, I wrote about the Lawai International Center for Hana Hou, the in-flight magazine for Hawaiian Airlines.  To do so, I met with Lynn Muramoto as she tended her myriad of orchids in her carport.  She told me about Lawai International Center.  How the valley in Lawai on Kaua'i's southwest side has always attracted people in search of healing--physical and spiritual.

For centuries Hawaiians traveled to a healing heiau (sacred site) in Lawai valley.  Then, in the late 1800s, Asian immigrants arrived to work on sugar plantations and erected Taoist and Shinto temples.  In 1904, a series of eighty-eight small Shingnon shrines--miniature temples with figures of wood and stone--were crafted and set along a path to replicate a traditional temple pilgrimage route of more than 1,000 miles in Shikoku, Japan, that was established more than 1,000 years ago.

Stories passed down through the generations tell of ancestors who traveled to Lawai to pray.  One great grandfather walked 28 miles from Kapa'a--barefoot--to pray that his daughter be granted a passport to come to Kaua'i.  She did.  Another grandmother gathered pinches of dirt from each shrine and placed them in four separate Bull Durham tobacco pouches when four of her sons were called away to wars.  All four sons returned to Kaua'i and returned the soil from their pouches to the valley.

Unfortunately, by the late 1960s, the shrines had fallen into disrepair--weather and theft had taken their toll--and the path was long overgrown.  Then, in 1990, Lynn visited the site.  She was so moved by what she found that she quit her job as a school teacher, scraped enough money together to buy the land and created the Lawai International Center.  She calls it a non-denominational place for peace and healing. 

As we've probably all experienced at one time or another, peace and healing often come in the guise of doing.  When Lynn created her non-profit organization, a team of volunteers joined Lynn's vision.  Together, they have cleared the path, repaired the shrines and, in some cases, re-constructed the temples and figurines.  But when you live in the growing garden that the island of Kaua'i is, the work--a.k.a. weeding--is never done.  Hence, this Saturday's work day.  If you want to learn more--if you want peace and healing--grab your gloves and your gardening tools and join Lynn and team.  Visitors and kama 'aina alike are welcome.

The center is open the second and last Sunday (these are non-work days) of every month from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or by appointment.


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