August 9 • Peace Lantern Ceremony ::
Throughout the afternoon, strong winds and heavy rain buffeted East Tennessee, but Misaki Tanaka’s facebook messages kept going out: “We will still meet for the Peace Lanterns. Bring your kimono.” and “Gathering at Earth Fare parking lot at 7:15″see you there!” Misaki was, again this year, the prime organizer of the Japanese contingent to the peace lantern celebration and the director of the traditional dance, Tanko Bushi, performed on the banks of the Tennessee River.
The rain passed, leaving streams and ponds of water behind in the field we gather in each year, but people came, navigated the terrain, and more than eighty were welcomed to the Peace Lantern celebration by OREPA president, Carol Green.
Larry Osborne and Ralph Hutchison led the group in singing Fred Small’s “Peace Is”¦”, Motoko Huthwaite and Ralph led the litany for peace, the Japanese dancers were a brilliant swirl of color as they circled and pantomimed the work of coal miners, and the shadow puppet presentation of the story of Nagasaki, told primarily through the words of survivors, was even better than last year, though many doubted that could be possible.
As darkness fell, we came to the main event of the evening. Lanterns were lit and, one by one, accompanied by prayers and offerings of peace, along with the recorder playing of Ann Myers and Mark Kiser, launched into the Tennessee. Gently nudged from the shore by Utsumi Shonin and others with bamboo poles, the lanterns at first floated upstream, then began a large, slow circle before lining up in a lovely string of light that slowly drifted on the current. Dusk turned to night, and we stood and watched, tasting the peace our hearts so long for in the quiet of the evening.