Wednesday, October 29, 2008


After experiencing eight months of clear mountain air in TN and re-entering an atmosphere clouded with sugar cane ash that made my allergies kick in, I suppose it was appropriate for me to go downtown and view wellness exhibits at the Sliman Theatre on Saturday. When I walked in, Betty Leblanc, a member of Solomon House outreach mission, guided me to her exhibit on the garden and labyrinth at Solomon House. Betty, along with her husband Wilson and Vickie Sullivan, built this labyrinth during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so that those fleeing the hurricane could have a place to find solace and renewal. The builders created a long, winding path of river rocks and packed concrete/earth in the backyard garden of Solomon House to make this simple labyrinth. They wanted to help people empty themselves of fears, anxieties, and to quiet their minds during a time of disaster. I was inspired to preach the dedication for the labyrinth and garden and to read a poem about the work of Solomon House during the hurricane at this ceremony. The labyrinth has continued to attract visitors from throughout the community of New Iberia, assisted by presentations on its use by Betty. Her brochure about the labyrinth mentions healing for hospital workers, hospice patients, psychotherapists, spiritual directors, troubled teens, and those who belong to 12-step programs. Betty calls the labyrinth a “pathway to the heart.”

A Reiki representative was busy melting away tension in one corner of the room at the Sliman and advertised that Reiki, through laying-on of hands and touch, could heal a person of pain, reduce depression, and relax the whole person including body, emotions, and spirit. A larger claim was that of eliminating toxins and releasing blockages. Rev. Kari Rhose also advertised sacred stone therapy in combination with the Reiki sessions, objects used in the ancient science of Ayurveda. In this healing technique, warm stones and crystals are put under and upon the body to anchor the body and reduce tensions. Rev. Kari also heals animals and does energy work in the home.

A reflexologist was busy in another corner administering detox footbaths and explaining ion detoxification system work. This is a non-invasive way for people to detoxify the body by putting their feet into water and relaxing for 20-30 minutes. The owner of Zensations Bodycare, Melanie Trox, claims that the ion detoxification system creates the same environment as soaking in a mineral bath or walking along the beach, the body absorbing millions of negatively charged ions which alkalize blood and tissue. Melanie is also a Reiki teacher and gave me a card listing the Reiki Principles: “Just for today/I am peaceful,/I am relaxed,/I am grateful,/I work on my spiritual practice,/I am kind to others and every living being.”

One table held products of Lokahi: a combination of aloe vera gel, blueberry juice, grape juice, pear juice, cranberry juice, noni juice, acai, and goji berry, to name a few of the ingredients in a liquid that provides nutritional supplementation.

I was drawn to a table on aromatherapy where I stopped to chat with Joie Connelly, a health and well-being coach to whom I sold a copy of my Young Adult book about traiteurs (healers in the Cajun Tradition). The finale’ was a Yoga session that lasted one hour and which I watched, then did my centering prayer while the rest of the group sat in meditation. I haven’t written about all of the exhibits, but it was an awesome presentation of holistic approaches to health and healing, and I went home feeling somewhat better about re-entering a region of polluted air. At least alternative approaches to wellness are being offered in the community.

As much as I love bayou country, I can’t help wishing that a ban against burning sugar cane stalks in the open fields would be enforced so that those of us with respiratory problems could breathe more freely again!
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