Last week, we bid our final farewells to Usui Shiki Ryoho Grandmaster Phyllis Lei Furumoto in Kapa’a, Kauai, Hawaii. Reiki Masters and practitioners, as well as members of Phyllis’ and her widow Joyce Winough’s families, traveled from all corners of the globe – Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Israel, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the UK and beyond. We gathered for the burial of Phyllis’ ashes on Sunday, November 24 and for a beach-side celebration of her life on Monday, November 25.
After days of grey skies and rain, the sun shone brightly on Sunday afternoon as we assembled for the hilltop burial. Phyllis’ siblings and Joyce interred her ashes beneath a beautiful hand-carved stone which reads “Usui Shiki Ryoho” in Japanese kanji. A small plaque with Phyllis’ name will be added soon.
We mourned together that afternoon in song, poetry and in prayers led by a reverend from the Kapa’a Jodo Mission. He blessed Phyllis with a Japanese Buddhist name Sho-Yo Rei Kai Zenjoni, which the reverend translated in a myriad of ways to reflect her spirit. Each attendee was given a moment to say farewell to Phyllis in front an altar of pictures, flowers and incense, as well as at her grave. As many tears were shed, many more hugs and smiles were shared in the comfort of this global Reiki community.
The next day we gathered at the pavilion at Lydgate Beach Park for a joyous day of song, dance, sharing and feasting. With crashing ocean waves and birdsong in the background, guests were greeted with a vibrant purple orchid lei and invited to sign a photo-filled memorial book that Brian designed and printed. Partygoers pored through its pages and shared their fondest remembrances of Phyllis amongst the images. I was honored to design a memorial program for the day including a souvenir collage of photos of Phyllis and an Irish blessing selected by Joyce.
The program included Taiko drums to invite the gods to our celebration, songs accompanied on sanshin – the 3-string Okinawan instrument, and traditional hula in honor of loved ones and the cycle of life. Many stories and laughs were shared in an open mic detailing Phyllis’ teachings, travels and her love of delicious food. Newly-called lineage bearer Johannes Reindl shared a story of a meal Phyllis cooked for him. Joyce brought a suitcase of Phyllis’ clothes and attendees rummaged through colorful piles of scarves, tunics and sweaters. Dried flowers from their home in Arizona were also distributed.
Dinner, drinks and more dancing followed as the sun set on a heart-full day.
Thank you to all the students who sent Reiki to the event!