The Lantern floating is a time-honored Buddhist rite originating in Japan and conducted in order to pay respects to our ancestors and comfort the spirits of the deceased. During this Toro-Nagashi, or "lantern offerings on the water," candle-lit lanterns are individually set afloat on the ocean and are said to ferry spirits "from the shore of delusion to the shore of salvation."
When I was younger, I stumbled across John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and his work, "High Flight". There is no one on this earth that embodied the spirit of "High Flight" better than my friend, Carroll "Lex" LeFon. I loved it then and I love it even more now that the two are forever linked in my heart and mind. It was fitting to inscribe it on this year's lantern.
My children also filled out a panel on the lantern with notes to their Grandpa who passed away in 2008.
It is amazing how quiet 40,000 people can be but when the time came for the lanterns to be launched, they were. Everyone seemed to be wrapped in their own memories.
Somewhere in that picture is my lantern, floating with the memories and prayers for my dad, my uncle, many friends, and two of my former students. The Boy and The Girl were with me and were able (and willing) to participate this year by writing on their own panel. And The Boy was the one to launch my lantern. We took time to talk about each of the names on the lantern and I am grateful that I was able to share a little bit about each person. I am even more grateful that, beyond their Grandpa John and their Great-Grandmother, they didn't have any names to include.
I long for those days, when my lantern didn't have so many names on it.