Tuesday, May 31, 2011

lanterns on the water

At a gathering estimated at 40,000, a woman in Hawaii was quoted as saying

"I wrote a message of thanks for the people who made me who I am."

The lantern-floating ceremony organized by a Buddhist sect was and remains a testimonial to the fact that everyone has memories. Of those who gathered Monday,

Many of them wrote the names of loved ones who have passed, and personal messages to them, on the sides of lanterns. Some wrote prayers and others wrote poems. At sunset, they waded into the ocean just off the beach, set their candlelit lanterns in the ocean, and watched them drift off into the horizon. 

I took part in a similar ceremony once. It was touching and evocative ... small lanterns imprinted with names from the past, lit by a single candle, each bobbing on the water's soft, relentless movement ... drifting away and yet never lost. Good memories, bad memories -- all of them somehow adding to and molding "who I am." Memories are distant and bobbing and ungraspable, like lanterns on the water. To praise them or thank them or damn them doesn't quite work. A lantern-floating ceremony is just a lovely compromise with the facts: Gone-yet-not-gone ... over the horizon.

What a nice invitation ... to make a credible peace with who you are and what, in fact, simply is.

To see the horizon is to miss the point.

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