Kalani Honua Blog

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lewie Pell with Kalani Blog Team

Some people dont know that you can live at Kalani. We have a stewardship program where you can own a cottage here and rent it out part of the year.

The following words are from Lewie Pell, a well-loved Kalani steward gifted at poetry.

I live, work, play, pray with my life partner Christiana, in the foothills of the Sierras in Northern California, with 3 months a year at Kalani. I am deeply committed to personal and planetary transformation on all levels.

Ammachi is my guru and Adyashanti our teacher. My works as a pastoral minister with the homeless and runaway kids for 20 years at Covenant House in New York City turned my lifetime poetry/songwriting to rhyming, rapping and spoken word performing which I do wherever, whenever...


Brother Lewie's my name

prayer power's my game-

prayer power, any minute any hour

all we gotta do

is get in touch with you know who

You know who - G-O-D

good orderly direction

that's the connection

you put your life in order

then you swim in happy waters.

How? Jesus said it best

seek the kingdom first, and its righteousness

all will be added unto you

nothing you need to do

but do your very best

and life will do the rest,

reach up as high as you can each day

-the best way to pray-

and God will reach down all the rest of the way.

Then reach out and help someone out

and you'll be helped out no doubt-

it's true as blue sky is blue

all the good you do will come back to you.

and that's the true blue

from your Bro Lew.

Poem about Kalani...

Sunrain Dance

This lihau (mist) drizzle on my face

pure grace

calls me to lighten up

in the Kalani embrace

of transformation now.

Each Aloha smile

jump starts the radiant

sunrain dance within

to deepen, deepen

run to the ocean's edge,

dive into the sparkle

swim the wide warm deep waters

of our pure being.

let the tide call of

I'm here, I'm here

draw us to new depths

of whole new me - you

one living sea

oh say can you see what I see

can we be what we see

one rainbow family

living a sweet harmony

where jungle sounds surround

coqui, coqui, go free! go free!

coqui, coqui, go free! go free!



don't fake it

naked me

naked mind

naked be

no me

only we

stark naked


I woke up this morning

feeling - well, pretty shitty

something about some essentials

I'd forgotten to bring for this day's trip

Sent my mind into

'just is' 'just is'

words of acceptance

like sea waves

in a vision

pounding the Puna pali

will the waves of my acceptance efforts

ever break down all the layers of resistance?

how long O Lord, how long?

..Adyashanti reading after meditation

say's it's simple, just wake up!

No-thing here at all...

I'll let today's waves

keep saying that,

with no words, I hope.

Because of my age at 75, there's a lot of goodbyes ...


Clouds come and go

sky remains,

Waves rise and fall

ocean remains,

People come and go

love remains.

One of many poems to Ammachi, the "hugging saint" of India who has hugged over 26 million people.

Oh Mother

Once again you are in our land in your physical form-

and I am determined to come to you

barefoot, bare mind, bare heart empty of all but my yearning

to melt into your blessed Being...

Why does it seem harder this time - and easier?

Never before the defender of this false self

So arrayed at their crumbling walls

to do battle with this Conqueror

who comes adored with the skulls of former egos

dancing her ecstatic victory dance

bright maya - slashing sword, whirling, flashing

Singing the sonorous war songs.

echoed by her devotees' million voices

armed with a smile that eclipses the sun,

a lover's glance that melts mountains

a hug that embraces the cosmos-

O Ma! Never so easy

for this little one

to lay himself down in thee

and die.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez with Wailana Simcock

"Supernature" a site specific work at "The Point" by Wai Company Dance Theater

Interview with Artistic Director Wailana Simcock

Many people at Kalani Retreat Center love "The Point."

The Point is known as a powerful site where you have an 180 degree view of the ocean and also of the lava flow in the distance.

The Point - Kalani Retreat Center - Spiritual and Yoga RetreatsMost people here at Kalani have stories about The Point being a symbolic place for them--sometimes they've invited all their friends there for a party, sometimes they've used it for an individual ritual like prayer or meditation. The Point is definitely a special place, and on Saturday March 19th, 5:30pm there will be a performance out at The Point with dancers and actors from both the Puna community and Kalani. This performance called "Supernature," is inspired by the Point itself and the epic story of Hi'iakaikapoliopele.  It will be performed by the grass roots troupe, Wai Company with founder and Artistic Director Wailana Simcock, who is also part of the Kalani staff.

Here is an interview with Wailana about performing at The Point.

NR: People that visit Kalani love "The Point." So you're doing a performance at The Point called "site-specific." Sounds like fun, can you explain "site-specific" for us?

Wailana: Site-specific simply implies that the actual site of the work being performed is pertinent to the piece/art.  I have worked with choreographers who have taken this idea to the hilt.  Like when I danced with Pearl Ubungen in San Francisco 1993, we danced at a pit where once stood a building, The I-Hotel, which housed the first wave of Filipino Immigrants to the US and where in 1973 they were cruelly displaced.  A human barricade that was 5 man deep awaited the cops at 5 am in the morning of their wrongful eviction.  The site sat empty for 20 years.  On the 20th anniversary of the eviction, Pearl decided to perform right there, so we had the corner of Kearny and Jackson street shut down for our 3 night performances.  It was amazing!

Also, Anna Halprin was a great inspiration for not only Pearl and I, but for the whole of Modern Dance.  She is a well known Choreographer and Activist.  She had a performance on a Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California where the community re-enacted these rapes that had ravaged her community. The re-enactment was a way to "reclaim" the mountain that was seen as spiritual symbol for them.  It was a way to "take the mountain back," also expressing grief, uniting the community around the tragedies.

Coincidentally, a week after this performance, a tip came in and the perpetrator was caught. Whether it was due to the performance or not does not really matter.  The fact that the community was able to heal and take back the mountain was powerful and meaningful enough.  Him being captured was just extra!

NR: Many people at Kalani love The Point, a magical place where you can see 180 degree views of the ocean, hear it roar, and do rituals or celebrations. Many visitors to Kalani have stories about special occasions or soulful moments. I know someone that had a birthday party on The Point, someone else that reclaimed her body after 5 years of being in pain due to an accident by doing Qi Gong on The Point.

Can you tell us why you chose The Point?

Wailana Simcock - Choreographer - Kalani Retreat CenterWailana: The Point was just the most logical place to go outside while here at Kalani. Thus it is a celebration of nature really, more than reclaiming anything or making a poltical statement.  It is to honor the 'aina (land) and to recall the story of Hi'iaka and Pele where they live here in Puna.  It is so inspiring to live where their myths and legends are lived out.  And, as you know, the Point is so symbolic.  To me it is  like where time stands still, a portal to the gods and the sea,  a symbol of union where the sea meets the sky.  Supernature is a nod to the super nature found here and to the supernatural gods and goddesses of Hawaii.

NR: One well known Goddess of Hawaiian myth is Pele...

Wailana: Pele has chosen to live here next to us, with her "clan," right here at Kileaua.  We are right next to her, we feel her everyday. We can't do a dance outside without talking about Pele. I want to pay homage to this wahi pana (storied place) of Puna that have been told for hundreds of years.

NR: What will you be doing for the performance?

Wailana: It's very eclectic and all over the place.  Some acting, spoken word. Some oli (chanting). We're going to be doing some Aerial work too on the tissue, ring, and straps, hanging from the trees there. We're going to have a Nina Simone song I am excited to work on in the aerial straps, a pas de deux to "Wild is the Wind" by my favorite, Nina Simone.

We'll have some different influences, like some kitschy camp 70s music (Supernature by Cerrone), some original hula and oli, songs about Pele.

NR: How can we come see you in this unique performance?

The performance is Saturday March 19th, 5:30pm at The Point. We are accepting love donations of any kind!  We are a very young company and are very ambitious. We are premiering Wai Company, our name, our mission and and our website -  waicompany.com.  We are stoked to be this unique dance theater company based out of Puna. We are faced with lots of challenges here but we make them into opportunities.  You have to to survive. You gotta be creative. I never would of thought I would start a dance company here. But I am so glad I did.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

How do you describe Kalani?

For those that know Kalani, the non-profit educational village and yoga retreat center in the Big Island of Hawaii, they know that it is a favorite repeat destination for many people!

For people that are new, here are some ways to describe Kalani:

Kalani Retreat Center | Yoga Retreats | Non-Profit | Camp

  • Spiritual Retreat Center- Kalani is kind of like Esalen Institute but more rustic, with  "tiki" chic.

  • Yoga Retreat Center - Yoga workshops and yoga retreats create a culture of people that enjoy yoga-related activities like ecstatic dance, kirtan, trance dance, and other similar events. There are other types of fun activities too like watsu, hula dance, huna healing and a full schedule of classes.

  • Volunteer Program - To volunteer in Hawaii you can live at Kalani and enjoy cheap travel, but unlike another place to volunteer like United Way, you get to live and enjoy fun activities like movie nights, open mike nights or themed "Ohana" or family nights. You also get to take most classes for free. Some people come to Kalani as a guest, start to feel like Kalani is "their family," and then come back as a volunteer.

  • It's the Food - If you are a "foodie" or even if you are not, Kalani has legendary cuisine that stays in people's memory long after their vacation at Kalani is over. For some people the food is enough to make them wild about Kalani. A recent Italian night in Kalani's kitchen included:
    • Farfalle chi Sardi - gluten free pasta with almonds, pine nuts, fennel and raisins
    • Caprese made with fresh mozzarella from the milk of water buffalo, tomatoes and basil
    • Pesce alla Messinese (whitefish with capers and olives), Cipolle Gratinate, (onions baked with balsamic and seasoned with wild island mint).
    • Cassata Sicliana that is one of the oldest cakes in history, enjoyed by Ancient Romans. Twice cooked cheese and almonds
  • Was this food for a special occasion? Not at all! It is just a typical day of dining at Kalani Retreat.

Kalani Retreat Center | Massage and Yoga Retreat

  • Community Dining - Last but not least, Kalani is unique in how it creates community. Group dining at the dining lanai creates fun opportunities for people to start out as strangers and leave as friends. Enjoyable activities like hula dancing, huna healing circle, yoga workshops can be shared with like minded others, and there are many chances to mingle and see familiar faces--during meal hours in the dining lanai, at the clothing optional pool or hot tub, or over at one of the classes. It's not unusual to meet people at Kalani and make friends for life.

Well, Kalani isn't always easy to describe, but we're doing our best for now. Want to help us describe Kalani? Please post a comment here, or send us a blog at [email protected]. It's worth it as this place is amazing and magical, and a best kept secret that others might love to know more about!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rolf Christen

Sunny day at Kalani | Non-Profit Yoga Retreat CenterWow! We were surprised to receive this wonderful letter from a guest at Kalani, our non-profit yoga retreat center and educational village on the oceanside in the Big Island of Hawaii. Here's what it says:

"Ilse and I had a great time again at Kalani and we are looking forward to our stewardship [cottage] there very, very much.

I spent 10 days. Never read the paper, didn't listen to the news, never checked my email, didn't even check the phone messages.

Instead I sat at the oceanside, watched the waves, the turtles, the whales, the dolphins, the palm trees, the clouds for hours on end. I played in the waves at the beach, swam all the way out to the rocks with you, enjoyed the hot tub under the stars almost every night.

I spent hours on the new beach, watching the surfers and watching the lava flow in the distance behind me. I spent almost a day on the lava shelf watching and feeling the waves crash into the land, the spray shooting high into the air, one after another, again and again.

I walked to the lava flow and saw, felt, experienced again the power of the earth arising into this world, creating something new, fresh, unspoiled.

New life, a new promise. I enjoyed great meals on the lanai, in the companionship of strangers, that I now consider close friends. I received tender loving hugs from strangers, smiles from people I had never met before. I joined the activities and yoga workshops that were offered even if they seemed a (very!) big stretch to my comfort zone..... and loved every bit of it!!!

And yes, I decided to join the 'ohana and put my feet down in this great community. May this endeavor be a blessing to us and to the community. Thanks for dreaming, Richard, and thanks for letting me be part.

With Love and Gratitude, Rolf"


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

Photography by Jose Martinez At Kalani, a Hawaiian yoga retreat center and educational village just 5 miles from where lava flows into the sea, Director Richard Koob playfully pronounces that "I Lava You" is the mantra this Valentine's day.

Based on the foothills of the largest volcano of the Hawaiian Islands, Kalani is near the home of the mythical goddess Pele, the Kilauea volcano. Pele, which translates to "lava", is the spirit of all things passionate and fiery, burning away illusion to find love and compassion within. Pele could be thought of as a Goddess that watches over Aloha Spirit.

Perhaps Pele could be thought of as a Valentine's Goddess of sorts, spreading the message of love and Aloha Spirit.

But what is Aloha Spirit exactly?

Stewart Blackburn, a Kalani facilitator that runs a popular class on Hawaiian Shamanism, talks about getting more Aloha Spirit in your life. He describes "Aloha Spirit" as finding your own joy. The Hawaiians believe that your power comes from feeling joy, as joy gives you the power to live, and to love others fully. Stewart talks about "Aloha Spirit" as something we can practice with a Beloved. "Being connected feels good," he explains, "things like criticism hurt connection, while love and joy help build connection." He talks about Aloha Spirit as a daily spiritual practice for sharing love and joy with others, and thus being on the right path.

Charles Muir, a well loved teacher of Tantra for 32 years and co-author of the book "Art of Conscious Loving", who has recently been featured on Oprah radio, is coming to Kalani for a couples retreat for Valentine's Day. Charles is known for getting couples to re-connect in positive ways, and connection is part of building joy and "Aloha." Charles is known for helping men creating more intention and energy around loving, like drawing a hot bath with rose petals for their lady. Women create a similar experience for men on a subsequent evening. Couples can usually be seen here smiling on Valentine's Day, after taking a workshop like a couple's retreat.

If couples here at Kalani need any help, scent from Hinano flower from a Hala tree is said to add romantic punch to a partnership. According to Maui magazine, ancient Hawaiian culture utilized the Hinano flower petals for love rituals: "A young kane [man] or wahine [woman] desiring to awaken the affections of another would seek out a fruiting male [Hala] tree. Male trees sport prominent spikes called hinano. Suggestive appearance aside, the spikes are covered in sweet-scented yellow pollen considered an aphrodisiac by Hawaiians. They used this pre-Contact Love Potion #9 to perfume their bedding and dust like talc beneath their malo, or loincloths."

Many couples have renewed their vows here at Kalani, enjoying the epic oceanfront views from lookout point nearby, also called "The Point," where you can see lava flow into the water, or see turtles or whales jump out of the sea. Couples can enjoy plush tropical scenery on land or at sea, with so many scents and sights.

Many also enjoy healthy cuisine at Kalani which is legendary, including ahi tuna, basil limeade, and watercress soup. Along with many activities and yoga workshops to take and whales to watch at nearby Kahena beach, couples can combine intimacy with group activity here at Kalani.

Couples that come to Kalani get to practice Aloha Spirit, with each other and also with the friendly staff and volunteer community.

In the spirit of Aloha, don't forget to say "I Lava You" to everyone you can.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

by Thomas Tunsch

Thomas TunschWhen I drove down the highway towards Kalapana on September 6th, it was not the first time that I looked forward to spending a vacation in Kalani. But this time was different, and that became clear as soon as I spotted the plume of Puhio-o-kalaikini where Pele is fighting with her sister Nāmaka. Never before, since my first visit to Puna in 1993, was the ocean entry of a lava flow so close to Kalapana, and it made me wonder what surprises I could expect during the next month.

While entering the Red Road I felt like I was coming home. At the same time I saw the differences: there were only a few Lehua blossoms to spot. Well, my last visit in 2006 was during the Merry Monarch Festival, and I had been told already that the islands had been suffering from a serious drought for a long time. But soon I reached Kehena where the dark green tunnel over the road covered the signs of water shortage. Then I was surprised, because Hale Aloha right at the ocean front of Kalani wasn't there 4 years ago. How would the larger Kalani be different from the smaller community that I had experienced during several visits as a guest since 1998?

Soon I would know, because this time I would be a “Sabbatical Volunteer” – volunteering for two days every week and enjoying all the guests’ amenities for the remaining days. But even as a guest I would have the privileges like a regular volunteer with free classes and the choice to spend my time with other guests or in the ʻohana. Checking in at the “Guest Services” brought me back into the relaxed atmosphere of the place again – the friendly welcome, familiar faces and voices, and I'd live at “Ocean Vista” in the house which I knew from my last stay in 2006 already.

The following days were filled with friendly “welcome back” memories, introducing myself to new volunteers and the soothing rhythm of life between sunrise and sunset. My idea to work on Wednesdays and Thursdays was accepted by Barcus, the manager of the agriculture department, and so the next Wednesday I started my volunteer work. After breakfast I joined my soon-to-be coworkers on the truck to the nursery where we started with a short meeting. I introduced myself to the others, and was welcomed by the small crew of the day. I learned that my choice of working Wednesdays and Thursdays would be perfect, because these days are reserved for projects mostly.

During the four weeks I stayed in Kalani we worked on a new path for guests and staff along the road. For me this project evolved into a very satisfying experience. Combined with the botanical tour given by Barcus, I learned a lot about the plants on the property and their traditional use by Hawaiians. Joining the Lauhala weaving classes with Lynda Tuʻa and the Hula classes with Jonathan Kaleikaukeha Lopez every Tuesday completed my adventures in Hawaiian culture and nature in a beautiful way.

Thomas and agriculture crewAll these wonderful classes and the work in the agriculture department were also connected by the inspiring teachers as well as the tradition in Kalani to start every activity with the “E ho mai” chant written by Edith Kanakaʻole. When I look back on the year 2010 now, these four weeks as a sabbatical volunteer in Kalani were not only a cultural and educational experience, but nurturing for body and soul at the same time.

I'm very grateful for the time that I could spend with the wonderful people in Kalani and for their affection. And therefore stronger then during my earlier visits I felt the prophetic meaning of the Hawaiian farewell “a hui hou” – until we meet again.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Marya Mann

Marya Mann

We live in unprecedented times. Just ask my cat Shiva. We sit in the sun together, pondering the brilliant sunshine. To my long-haired white cat Shiva, this is unprecedented, for her human servant rarely tarries: I’m so busy. We’re all so busy. We rarely pause to simply purr, watch and sense the larger movements of nature, the dance of stars, planets and moons, but I think it’s time we do.

And it’s about time. Time is the real art we are all married to.

From my backyard here on the Big Island, where the coming winter solstice, December 21, will be almost as warm as summer solstice, and thus easier to replicate the open-air observations of the ancient Maya, who studied and mapped the structure of the galaxy and greater cosmos nearly 4000 years ago. With profound precision, they pondered not only the Sun, but the precession of the solstices — how the winter solstice sun would rise at different spots on the horizon.

Over time, the Mayan shaman-astronomers realized that every 26,000 years, a major alignment would occur: the Solstice Sun will align with the Dark Rift in the Milky Way, which the Maya called the Mouth of the Crocodile, or “jaguar-toad,” on December 21, 2012.

Living now, during the end-times, was to these ancient astronomers, mathematical geniuses, so extraordinary that they chose our unique time as the transformation point of the sacred calendar, the Tzolkin, based on the cycles of the Pleiades, encompassing a vast parade of time — 26,000 years.

Linguistic alchemist and plant medicine pioneer Terrence MacKenna was one of the first to notice the incredible time-keeping system of the Mayans, which was actually a combination of several cycles that meshed together, marking the movements of the Sun, Moon and Venus. “The Maya believed, for reasons which are perhaps forever lost, or perhaps soon to be revealed, that the coincidence of winter solstice sunrise with the part of the Milky Way that they called the xibalba be would not be, as some have stated, the end of the world, but its moment of true creation.”

The Mayan visionaries, like their contemporaries the Vedic philosophers in India and pre-classical metaphysicians in Egypt, found in astronomical processes the bedrock truth of nature, and they devised inventions like the Tzolkin Calendar to teach us, their heirs, about these celestial energies, to help us push through or midwife sometimes difficult evolutionary changes. The Mayans seemed to want us to know that we are entering an Alignment Era, a time of transformation, and if we can sense it, we might feel in the spiral structure of our own molecules the spiral structure of the galaxy, and therein find our real liberty. Petty politics and WikiLeaks are symptoms, not the cause of our human problems. They obscure the real issue of realigning with nature.

Through their myths and elaborate ceremonies, the Maya honored the cosmic waltz of time, the sacred relationships of planets and stars in their cosmic waltz, dancing in the skies. For one moment, now, feeling Shiva’s fur as we count our blessings in the garden, I notice the dancing. This dance as we know it, the dance of life in our universe, has been twirling its celestial choreography for at least 13.5 billion years, the estimated age of the universe.

So what’s a little 26,000-year-cycle? One of my mentors, Jose Arguelles, wrote in The Mayan Factor, “The emergence of humankind – Homo Sapiens – represents a particular stage in the evolutionary cycle of a star system, a stage in which the purposive integration of the four levels of consciousness becomes a distinct planetary possibility. The stage, Homo Sapiens, has a duration of 26,000 tun or five great cycles of 5,200 tun each. The 26,000-tun cycle is roughly equivalent to the so-called Platonic Great Year. The 5,200-tun cycle is but the fifth or last stage of the current evolutionary cycle. What we are experiencing is the climax of our particular species and evolutionary stage – the very last 26 (now 2) years of a cycle some 26,000 years in length!”

Indigenous people all over the globe would confirm what MacKenna and Arguelles have perceived. The ancient time-keepers foretold that human lives were bound with nature, and that if we step too far away from nature or caring for the planet and each other, we can not reasonably stay in balance.

Ah, but Nature gave us options. Nature is giving us support. On this December 21st Solstice, the heralded solstice Sun will rise in concert with a rare eclipse of the Full Moon which begins on the evening of Monday, December 20th, an event that occurs only once every 120 years.

The beauty of this moment is that the Earth’s shadow — the ego’s negativity, anger and indulgence, which creates war, racism and greed — will eclipse the fullness of our singular Moon. During its overnight dance in the skies, as the Earth’s shadow moves past the Moon, I think all the wounds and pettiness of human nature can fall away too. I plan to pitch my own sly and prideful cellular negativities into the proverbial bonfire. I hope you will too.

Let the power of the visual architecture and incredible choreography of the celestial spheres carry us home to ourselves, knowing our dignity, generosity and enthusiasm for life as gracefully on Earth as the sky is above. “As it is above, so it is below,” say the ancient teachers.

And as it is below, so it will be above, in a transformed state. The passion of singers like the Puna Men’s Chorus, futurists like Richard Koob, Jim Berenholtz, and Mark Kadota, musicians Boaz and Tony Selvage, and dancers Yoko, Janelle and myself, to co-create joyful ceremony at places like Kalani Honua on the Big Island, arises from this: an abiding belief in the rejuvenating power of this poignant time, and the regenerating energies of the sacred space of Kalani, so near the outpouring of lava from Kilauea Volcano.

Whether you can celebrate this amazing time, this New Alignment Era, with us on the Big Island, or you plan to find your own transformational event, party or meditation, realize that as we bless and appreciate these significant – and also ordinary – moments in time, our sacred reflections and intentions refresh the music of the spheres.

Cleansed and renewed by the Solstice Moon Eclipse, we can choose to set our sights for the next two years, to Winter Solstice 2012, and beyond that, into the flowering of human consciousness around the one wheel of life. The time is upon us for this reunion, to quicken our pulse with the rhythms of nature, to re-bond with the earth, water, sky, fire and ether that permeate life. We’re zooming into the Floral Age, and if we reaffirm our oneness with nature, it will be the most powerful time for transformation and renewal our planet may ever face.

“As we struggle with the vastness of the universe of space and time and our place in it,” said MacKenna, we follow in Maya footsteps. In doing so, we should celebrate the wisdom of the Maya and ponder its depths, and wonder after its most persistent perception: that the world is to be born at last on December 21, 2012.”

Petting my cat Shiva while this afternoon’s Sun showers us with light, I recall how I named her after the dancing god of India, the destroyer or transformer of the Hindu Trinity of divinity. Shiva is often depicted as Nataraja, the lord of the dance, dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara Purusha, the demon of ignorance, stamping out greed, anger and delusion.

The Solstice Eclipse this December 20th at Kalani will be a chance to dance with Shiva and renew the ancient light of our true nature. Please join in, wherever you are.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Margaret Critchlow

My story is a familiar one, with a twist. My first visit to Kalani in 2003 made me want to come back. No surprise there! What is more unusual is that I returned in 2005 not to volunteer, but to do anthropological research on the culture of retreat centers.

Kalani launched me on this journey, and now it has called me back to spend two weeks as an Artist in Residence writing a chapter for the book that has grown out of the research. The working title is Journeys Through Centers. In the book, my intention is to share the voices of people who work at a variety of retreat centers, explore the paths they follow, and suggest why such centers matter to us all.

Here is a taste of the Kalani chapter. This excerpt draws on some of my earlier writing. It is a work in progress, so I welcome your corrections, and suggestions. I look forward to your input as I write the 2010 update on volunteer life at Kalani. If you want to share your thoughts or read more, please email me at ([email protected])

Condensed excerpt:

My research suggested that time was the key privilege that Kalani volunteers enjoyed.  For North Americans in the work force, money can seem easier to get than time; but volunteers at Kalani often had more time than money. They needed some money, true. Volunteers in 2005 paid $1500 for three months. But their privilege was to be able to spend months or even years in a place most could visit only for a few days or weeks.

How did people get the time they needed to be resident volunteers at Kalani? The key was to trust their gut feelings or intuition, and to see time as a very precious choice. A variety of paths led people this twofold realization.

I interviewed forty-two resident volunteers and paid staff at Kalani in the winter of 2005. The first question I asked was, “How did you come to volunteer at Kalani?” The responses emphasized the importance of following one’s intuition as well as acting decisively to break old patterns and step into an experiential space that opened people to new possibilities. Larry  (all volunteers names have been changed) was going through a marital breakup when he came to Kalani. He told me, “I thought it was really beautiful. I met the person who was in charge of personnel at the time, and I just had an amazing feeling about her, and I thought well if everyone here is like this, this is where I’d like to be.”

Ironically, time is the key resource that makes it possible to volunteer at Kalani, but volunteering  also buys people time. As Alex put it, he has the luxury of time at Kalani to allow what he should do next to unfold:

[Many volunteers] are here to have fun, but also to “figure it out”, whatever it is they have to figure out. You know, what do I want to do for work? That's a big question in my mind. I have a lot of different ideas, but nothing really has gripped me yet. I have the luxury of staying here or traveling for a while until it does, which is great. I feel very fortunate to have that luxury, to not have to keep going.

Some volunteers had no career or permanent work when they came to Kalani. But many others left or sold their businesses to free up not only the cash but the time to volunteer. Fred sold his catering business. Alex sold his construction business. Mina left a high power job in New York’s fashion industry. Dale’s dot com business was thriving. He got out and came to Kalani as a volunteer just before the tech stocks crashed.

Personal transformation, then, arises partly from making the time to step out of ‘normal’ life. Traveling, as a temporary state, seems a low risk way to do this because one can keep traveling, return home, or find a new place to live. But travel to Kalani opens volunteers to new possibilities, including more permanent lifestyle changes that critique the normalcy of the work-a-day world. For example, for Amy, who left the solar panel business, being at Kalani changed her attitude towards work and possessions…

to read more contact Margaret <[email protected]>


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jon Montgomery

Jon Montgomery

I sat outside on the deck,
Out by the candle.
I looked up in the sky,
But my eyes were closed.
I thought, “How cool would it be
To hear from my Lord.

I sat out with the candle
And looked up in the sky.
All I could do was hear the rain
And listen for my Lord.

As my body relaxed and
Slowed down my mind,
As all the worries of the day
And the concerns of life
Started to fade away;
I sat out with the candle
And listened for my Lord.

As my body went quiet,
Then my brain,
I heard a slight voice.
“You are making the right move.”

I was concerned
over decisions in life
And God knew my soul.
He knew what was ailing me.
He knew my stress.

He picked up my pain
And said, “You are making the right move.”
I stopped to hear
But could not believe.
”Is that you, my Lord.”

And then I heard it.
I heard His voice
“Yes, it is, my son.”
But I still did not believe.

I decided to take a chance.
My words were formed.
“Do you still love me?”
I ask with expectations of despair.

And without a moment, He said,
“I’ve always loved you,
From the beginning of time,
Even before.
I’ve loved you before you were born.

As the words flowed
With no effort from His mouth,
My eyes began to tear.
I could not believe it.

As I kept my mind in slow,
I again relaxed my eyes.
Tears were there but
They were supposed to be.
I was talking to my Lord.

“God, I’m so sorry for….”
But before I could finish
He shut my mouth,
“Look straight ahead.
I’ve forgiven you your wrongs,
before they were even committed.“

As the pictures came by in my head,
I thought I’d see the wrongs --
The sinning and the dirty deeds,
All the scum and filth.

But what I saw was the pain that came
To other people I’ve known.
The pain I caused
And how I treated them.
That was the sin that God saw
He wanted me to know.

He was saying, “Keep moving,
You’re doing fine.
You’re learning and growing
And making changes to be better.
For you and those around you.
You’re learning how to be yourself
And love who you were created.”

The rain poured down,
The wind kept moving.
I was talking to my Lord.

“Am I on the right track, Lord?”
I asked with much hesitation.
Very slowly, with deliberate beat,
“You. Are. On. The. Right. Track,”
He said.

A moment passed.
And then another.
I let the words sink in.
“Can we visit for a while?” and
He replied, “We’ll be forever together.”


Friday, November 19, 2010


Blue Hands group in Japanese Garden

I am still enroute back to San Francisco after a lovely couple of days in Waikiki which was perfectly sunny and busy.

One of my most powerful experiences at Kalani happened on Saturday morning. Adi had recommended the sunrise at the point on the very first day at Kalani and I had yet to make it, so I forced myself out of bed and walked down to the point. It was a bit gray and overcast, so I did not get much of a sunrise, but I did watch the Windex blue waves crashing against the rocks. It started to rain and someone had conveniently left a small umbrella on the bench. A coincidence, perhaps, but a metaphor, maybe.

As I walked back up the long road I noticed every bird and blossom along the way. I shed a few tears remembering my first love Tony, who loved Hawaii so much. I also remembered all of the experiences of the week - snorkeling, exuberant dancing, being lovingly massaged by JaRed and Dennis, the waterfall, coconut macadamia oatmeal, buying noni juice and drinking kava in Hilo, the Japanese Garden picnic, learning the hula with Jonathan/Kimo, smoking with Dave and the Berkeley boys, swimming naked with Wallace, the horticultural tour with Barcus, Jim's doses of daily philosophy, the Russians in the sauna with Dennis and so much more.

When I got back to Mauka, I realized that the journey to Inspiration Point was not at all about the seeing sunrise, but the about clarity that morning light brings to the present and the past, the quiet time to be mindful of our surroundings. I take that morning clarity into the future along with the metaphor of the umbrella that was there when I needed it. I took it back to the bench before I left and hope that someone else will find all that they need for their journey at Kalani.

Aloha and Mahalo to you all, Lorenzo