Lighted Paper Lanterns Lead the Way

ighted Paper Lanterns illuminate the water during the Obon Festival in Sasebo, Japan in 2016.
Lighted Paper Lanterns illuminate the water during Obon Festival in Sasebo, Japan in 2016.

A single candle flickered within the paper lantern, glowing warmly as it floated upon the rippling water.  Other lanterns followed, one by one, as the current carried the collective downstream illuminating the river. I sat on the water’s edge contemplating what the lighted river represented – guiding lights that lead spirits of deceased loved ones back to their homes.  Interesting that I should have an opportunity to visit Japan, especially to experience the Obon festival, near the second anniversary of my father and husband’s passing.  Surprisingly, participation in the festival brought intense emotional release and awakened an inner desire to move forward.  I felt a definitive end to debilitating grief coupled with increased strength to walk onward in my own human experience.

While charting my course into new waters, I thought about the future of this website.  The website began as a hub to centralize all my personal family history projects – stories, research, and personal history blog.  My intention was to make life easier on myself and simplify the sharing of information with family and friends.  I didn’t even give it a fancy name. Four years later the website still remains.  Not a day goes by that it does not get at least a handful of hits, and although the site has been nearly dormant for the past two years, it has led to many offline discoveries that were priceless to me and others.  Incidentally the most popular posts statistically, by far, are those pertaining to Duquesne Croatians.

The Japanese lantern experience took place a month ago.  This week Japanese people gather to view the Harvest Moon, but last night we decided to view an American movie instead.  The film was the recently released story of Kubo and the Two Strings, the adventures of a young, paper-folding, story-telling Japanese boy who ultimately learns about the enormous strength and power of family.  The story takes place in Japan of long ago with a super-sized Harvest moon, animated origami characters, plenty of Asian magic and mysticism — and paper lanterns accompanied by ancestors’ souls.  The moment the lanterns appeared on the screen, I promptly received a message from the Universe.  Something stirred within me, and I knew it was now time to resurrect this blog and resume my family history endeavors.  The objective and tone of my posts and pages may vary slightly from what you have seen in the past, but it is time to get back to the business of family and ancestors. Hopefully, my memories of the paper lanterns will symbolically remind me of the guiding light of my ancestors’ love, beckoning me to follow the stories of their lives. My plan is to chart a course and follow them wherever they may lead.  I invite you to follow along with me.



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