Lanterns

After we had eaten our Thanksgiving feast, we made new stars and lifted them into the sky.

I don’t know when Cathers had the idea of adding Chinese Lanterns to our Thanksgiving celebrations, but it was an inspired thought!

I love paper lanterns. They are such a simple idea. A few bits of fragile tissue paper and a bit of meths-soaked card one minute and then a glowing, floating beacon of light the next.

You need a partner in crime to help you: one holds the lantern aloft, the other stoops underneath with a match or a taper to light the card at the bottom. Very slowly the lantern fills out with light and warmth. And then it begins to lift…

I’m not sure we go for symbology here at Matryoshka Haus. We didn’t say a prayer or perform a rite with these lanterns. We had some fun. And yet there is something about the act of releasing a lantern that lifts the soul.

You stand and you wait, feeling the insubstantial weight of the paper get gradually lighter in your hands. You feel the feeble warmth from the flame grow and the light dance around you as the wind catches the flame.

Gradually you have a sense of an imperceptible pull on your hold and you find yourself releasing your grip for a second to see what will happen. No, not yet. Soon. Maybe now…?

With a gentle lift the lantern is away. At first you feel like you’ve made a mistake and there will soon be a fiery mess at your feet. But no, up it goes. Slowly, then faster and higher. Like a gentle and majestic jellyfish it rises into the air and over your heads and is carried away.

Chinese lantern floating away.

As you watch the lantern rise, you feel lighter. You feel like your spirit has been lifted up, into the heavens with your man-made temporary star. You might not have prayed, you might not have wished, but for a moment you realise that your worries are less present and your heart less heavy.

And you smile.