That swirl of comments, the wonderfully kind ones as well as the obviously aching and sad ones reminded me of one part of our reunion I forgot to write about (the other parts of the reunion are here, here and here).
It was our sunset lantern-set-off. Before I even begin though, and get people mad at me for littering our beautiful earth (which would be awful), I must say that these were 100% biodegradable lanterns. (You can get more details about them or buy your own here.)
They were beautiful.
But what I liked most about watching them lift gracefully and some not-so-gracefully into the air was what thoughts were going through my mind as I watched them.
You see, each family got a lantern to set off.
The goal was to light them all up and watch them all float up and drift away together.
But it happened to be a little bit windy so we had to maneuver ourselves together to help the flames stay lit.
We used blankets and our bodies to guard the flame against the breeze.
Once we had that flame good and lit, we oooo'd and ahhhhhh'd as we watched those beauties sail off, one by one, into the silky night sky.
Some came close to crash-landing into the shallow water on the shore, and I think two actually did.
But we pulled them on out and were still able to set them free, chasing the setting sun on the other side of the lake.
This green one below got a little wet but still took off with a little love and patience from my brother.
But my favorite was this yellow one:
Some overanxious grandchild got overzealous about opening the packaging so it was torn at the base.
Some gave up on it quickly and moved to another lantern. Others stayed and coaxed it on until it could fly.
Then we all cheered as that injured warm glow floated up, gasped when it started to sink, and cheered with more vigor when it stabilized and floated up and up and up.
I paused for a moment as my mind wrapped around the beauty of working together to lift our lights higher and my thoughts on that matter:
We all need each other.
Some float more easily than others.
Some seem ready to fly but end up with internal secret worries that drag them down to the water in mid-flight. They need more help. They need more love.
Others just chug along steady and sure. And could still use some love.
And still others start off with real, in-the-trenches issues (the one that was torn) and need an army of love and help to lift them up.
We can be that army of love for each other. Whether it is smiling at a stranger on the street (their light glows brighter) or caring meticulously for someone in need, or simply keeping something to ourselves that may cause hurt feelings, we all have the power to lift.
And we can all lift in our own uniquely God-given ways.
And also those who helped me see a better, higher perspective that was lost with my apparently "easy-sailing" point in time, who maybe need a little lifting themselves.
I wish I could give them each a hug, tell them I'm sorry they are hurting and help them in a way that would lift them up.
I want to tell them they are not alone, on a dark horizon, even if it seems that way at times.
There is light all around us if we look. Especially if we look up.
All those comments, happy and sad, helped me remember, once again, that we all have different lights. God loves each of us and wants us to help each others' lights shine a little surer. Lift a little higher. As we do, we lift our own lights a little higher.
Just like those lanterns, glowing as they sail up (because of the care and love they got) to light the darkening sky.