The Shinnyo-en Foundation selected and sponsored nine teens from interfaith organizations, Ayluonne among them, to participate in a program revolving around the Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony. This reflection was first published in Shinnyo-en USA’s monthly publication, “The Nirvana.”

 

I have not lost a loved one. Yet, as I stood upon Ala Moana beach, peering out onto the pool of golden light, my eyes brimmed with tears. I mourned for the silent woman beside me casting off a prayer to her fallen son. I mourned for the inconsolable child behind me crying for a mother he lost too soon. I was engulfed in a sadness that extended beyond me – a shared sadness residing in the hearts of all.

I could have wallowed in this sense of remorse – sinking deeper into a feeling of hopelessness. I could have solely witnessed the tears, solely heard the sobs and solely felt the heaviness of my spirit. However, as the sky darkened, the moon nestled in the sky like an iridescent pearl. Tones of crimson singed the horizon; hues of purple pooled above the earth, shrouding the scene in breathtaking beauty. I was overcome with silent awe. While we gathered on the shore in grief, we stood for the possibility of harmony. The sea of unified lanterns, mass of compassionate souls and sanctity of the space exuded hope. After a moment, I could not help but turn my face toward the stars and fervidly smile with my entire being.

I came to recognize the gravity of the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Six Billion Paths to Peace initiative. Indeed, the lanterns radiated prayers and wishes to the deceased, bringing consolation to wounded hearts. Thousands of candles flickered for those whose lives had come to a close. However, as I reflect upon my invaluable experience, I conclude that beyond venerating the end, the lanterns signified the beginning. With each lantern, we set forth on our individual path; with each lantern, we ignited our spirits. The ceremony kindled a fervent sense of purpose – an emblem of our devotion to peace and motivation for change.

Ultimately, I took part in an evening that will forever propel me forward. I have never felt so vulnerable yet empowered in all my existence. As I waded in those tranquil waters, brimming with life and emotion, I truly felt my place and purpose in this world. I wish to thank all those who allowed me to take part in this profound ceremony and to embark on my own path toward peace.

 

Read more about the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Six Billion Paths to Peace initiative here: http://www.sef.org/projects/six-billion-paths-to-peace/

 

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