What do the floating lanterns symbolize?
The Japanese traditional lantern floating ceremony was established to consecrate prayer to the departed, to the people who have passed away. The flame of the candlelit inside a lantern symbolizes a life, and the prayer consoles the departed and wishes them to go to a better life, a better place in the spiritual realm. The ceremony is based on the realization that our lives—the people living right now—are built on the foundation of the lives given by previous generations. We are at the front line of the chain of lives going back to infinite time in the past. Lantern floating gives us the opportunity to say “Thank you” and offer prayers of appreciation to the lives who gave life to us. The lit lantern represents our conversation with the people beyond the boundary of life and death; it is an occasion where we say “Thank you” to the infinite past. When we have that profound appreciation, that’s when we get awakened to a strong resolve of living this moment fully. It’s about appreciation, but also having a resolve to live for now and for the future.
Fire + Water
Thanks to my father, Dr. Thomas R. McElhenney, who served in the Air Force to complete his medical residency. Here’s to ya, Pop.