By Virginia Beck

Hikina a Kala Heiau in Wailua, Kaua‘i's Eastside

Hikina a Kala Heiau in Wailua, Kaua‘i’s Eastside

When life gets tough, where do we go for peace, for refuge? It could be home, beach, music, surfing, church or nature.

Kaua‘i is an amazing place to get your values and your senses realigned. Your pulse and blood pressure drop to normal, or a little better than normal. We have the ocean, the beaches, the mountains, the sunshine and the incredible night sky of Hawai‘i. These become a sanctuary, a place to rest and renew our spirit and our outlook.

But what about those who have no sanctuary? Many places in the world are full of violence, poverty, oppression and the rising impacts of climate change. Communities are forced to leave their homes, their ‘aina, their families, to seek safety.

Our nation was founded by people seeking that sanctuary — religious freedom and a safe place to live. They left it all behind, endured hardship, wicked ocean storms in tiny boats and dangerous coasts. They broke away from home and religion to explore the frontiers of their relationships with God, and their right to the freedom to live. What courage, to set out for freedom! Freedom from persecution, imprisonment and execution; free to struggle for a new way of praying, thinking or living

Millions of refugees from poverty, slaughter, wars, revolutions in Russia, Italy, France, Spain; from the Irish Potato blight, from Stalin, Hitler and other tyrants. They all fled to America. Wave after wave, French, Spanish, Chinese, all found homes in the United States. They came to farm, build cities, railroads, mining and ranching. Later, the Mexicans would come by the millions.

Hawai‘i was found by immigrants. According to historical records, in 300 C.E., the first wave of Polynesians, believed to be Marquesans, came to escape the circumstances of home and to build new communities in our Islands. Later, Tahitians came. Each group brought new ideas, new gifts, new foods.

Caucasians, Polynesians, Spanish, Germans, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Hispanic populations followed to make our chop suey, local mixture of ethnicities to enrich our community.

In Wailua, there is an ancient place of refuge, Hauola, on the northern end of Lydgate Park.

The pu‘uhonua, or place of refuge, on Kaua‘i is special.

One of only two remaining refuges in Hawai‘i, it is by the Wailua River, near the ocean, next to the Hikina a Kala Heiau. Hauola was a pu‘uhonua in ancient Hawai‘i. It was a sanctuary for kapu breakers, those who had broken traditional social, religious laws, or the laws of the ali‘i, or rulers. By seeking sanctuary, people could stay alive.

Virginia Beck

Virginia Beck

Nearly 7.4 billion people inhabit this planet. Where violence rules, people will flee. These islands will continue to provide refuge and sanctuary. We came at different times, on different boats or planes, but we are all in the same boat now. Tiny Spaceship Earth. And so we learn to share, to help, to teach; to expand our ‘ohana to include more, different, needy people. Our country was built on the hard work of refugees. Many of our parents and grandparents were immigrants.

Most of us alive now can trace our DNA backward nearly 3.9 million years, to some common ancestors. If you jo