A gathering place for those that feel loss, want to renew hope, and long for the comfort of a community that comes together as one, releasing all collective thoughts onto the water and out into the world. To me, this was the purpose of the Water Lantern Festival.
The crowd started to slowly build out at Kiwanis Park on a warm Saturday afternoon. The tranquil water shimmered in the sun as flocks of ducks floated on by.
The music is hypnotic as I set up my chair in the park, open a book, and relax with my Arizona community.
After a spell I start to decorate my lantern. I write out the names of each immediate family member, a yin-yang drawing, and finally a scene of mountains with rivers flowing down into the sea. As the sun starts to fade, I light the lantern and watch the sky turn orange and pink.
We all take a moment of silence, say a community prayer of hope and forgiveness, then release our lanterns out into the lake. Slowly the lanterns spin and float, coming together in a brilliant light as the evening descends upon us.
It was as powerful as any sermon or church service. My soul was renewed, my faith in humanity restored.