Time to Heal

The Healing Gathering on Sunday, April 17, is completely focused on helping Tucsonans—and is completely free of charge.

Co-created by Jomo Williams and John Westenhiser, the event is meant to help Tucsonans find ways to heal after the tragedy of Jan. 8.

"I've never lived in a place where something like (January's shooting) happened," said Williams. "There could still be a lot of lingering scars."

Williams said that after such a shock, upset feelings don't just go away.

"To be really honest, a few days ago, I was talking about the (shooting), and I just started crying," he said. "I thought, 'Wow, it's still there inside me!'"

At the Healing Gathering, true to its name, attendees will find numerous physical and emotional opportunities for healing.

Guided yoga sessions will occur throughout the day, starting bright and early at 8 a.m. Williams said that mats will be provided, and that the yoga poses will be accessible to beginners and experts alike.

There will also be free bodywork offered at the gathering, including massage, acupuncture, shiatsu, reflexology and reiki. All practitioners are certified and licensed, and Williams said people can expect 15 to 20 minutes of bodywork.

A number of counselors will also be present for people who want to talk. The focus of counseling is supposed to involve how people have been affected by the shooting, but Williams said this is a loose guideline. "Jan. 8 is a reference point. ... It can open up to other things."

The Healing Gathering also will feature live music from Descarga, Tryst, 8 Minutes to Burn, Greg Morton, 5-Way Street, Peace Fair Band and Williams' own Spirit Familia.

Williams said the bands were chosen because of the positivity of their sound and lyrics. "I designed Spirit Familia as a force for healing," he said about his own band.

The music will start at 10 a.m. with a community drum circle, and bands will begin at 11 a.m., continuing until around 5 p.m.

It's clear that Williams is passionate—not only about the Healing Gathering, but about Tucson. Originally from Los Angeles, Williams was living in Hawaii when he said he realized it was time to come to the Sonoran Desert.

"I was in meditation one evening, and my inner guidance told me to go to Tucson," said Williams. So after 17 years in Hawaii, he came to Tucson, where he has been living now for 10 years.

"I love Tucson," said an impassioned Williams. "Tucson is the most beautiful community I've ever lived in." Williams said it is because of Tucson's sense of community that he knew he had to do something.

One of the most unifying things that will be happening on Sunday is the community dinner. It will consist of rice and lentils, salad, bread and water, with around 200 desserts from Govinda's Natural Foods Buffet. The greens are being donated by local farmers, and the rice and lentils will be coming from the Food Conspiracy Co-Op.

"We are a social species," said Williams. "It fills an ancient need in us to eat together, to break bread." He said that he believes there is a power in eating together as a community, and that there is an energy generated when people gather together.

Williams stressed the importance of the fact that the dinner, as well as everything else at the Healing Gathering, is free of charge, Williams.

"Free adds to this kind of event," he said. "There is not to be one single penny spent."

Williams said that if people feel compelled to donate, they should donate to any number of charities instead.

"My whole life is really about service," said Williams. "I can't do much about Japan; I can't do much about Afghanistan. But I can do a lot for my community."

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