I just got this e-mail from a friend who was downtown on 9/11 three years ago, and wanted to share it with you.
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Mourning is tricky business–very tender and private, at least for me. I knew I wanted to do something on Saturday, but didn’t know what, until this post on the Gawker blog caught my eye:
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Floating Lanterns Ceremony, Hudson River
A traditional floating lanterns ceremony commemorating the victims of the WTC
tragedy will take place on Saturday, September 11th at Pier 40 (South Side) at W.
Houston and West, starting at 7:30 PM. Buddhist priest T.K. Nakagaki will lead
the ceremony with assistance in the water from the New York Kayak Company.
Each year people in Japan gather to float lanterns in remembrance of the victims
of the atomic bombings and all victims of war….The ancient custom of “Floating Lighted Lanterns” in the waterways is a symbolic way of respecting the lives that have gone before us. Also, it can represent a light of hope for peace and harmony that we send out over the waters of transmigration. As we pay respect to the lives which were lost at the World Trade Center, we offer the light of hope for a peaceful world in which no one else
Somehow, that sounded right–something quiet that involved music and prayer, although I’m not a Buddhist by any stretch of the imagination and the combination of lanterns and kayaks struck me as kind of weird. I called a friend, who was game, and together we went down at dusk.
“Follow the smell of pot,” I kidded. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the turnout was a surprising mix of folk, and as the ceremony and chanting was not in English, I felt as comforted as if I were at High Mass, hearing Latin plainsong. I also didn’t realize that Pier 40 was within spitting distance of the site of the WTC, and so we had a perfect view as the Lights came on. It was a very moving sight. One could see sparkles of light within the beams ascending to the stars, just like one sees dust reflected from a flashlight. Made me very weepy, although I can’t tell you why.
We must have been there for two hours. The night was crystal clear and the ceremony was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed.