dancing for the dead

Dancing for the dead is not macabre.
Dancing for the dead, we celebrate continuity, community, and life itself. 

In Japan, Obon is a traditional celebration in which the ancestors are remembered and honored. Family altars are cleaned and special offerings are placed in front of photos of the departed. Those living in far away cities return to their hometowns and to their families. Indeed, it is said that our ancestors too, return to our homes during Obon. For the living, there are gatherings at local festivals with music, folk dances, and stalls selling food and games. Bon-odori, folk dances performed during Obon, are usually done in a circle and the movements are simple and repetitive so that everyone can enjoy dancing together. In the commemoration of “the dead”, we join together as a community and culture—vibrant and sustained.

The stars do not cease to exist during the day simply because we cannot see them. Likewise, the souls of those who have come before us do not suddenly cease to exist at the end of their days. Rather, death is like night—a passage of time between skies full of light. And like the stars, our ancestors dance among us.

do not be afraid

do not be afraid
in the quiet blanket of nighttime 
do not be afraid
dreams come alive and 
love shines in candlelit cascades of whispers 
and caresses
it is darkness which makes the stars visible
guiding us home 
unveiled and holy
do not be afraid
to cross deserts windswept wildflower fields seas and 
mountain rains
the open blue of day welcomes you
warm outstretched and
just around golden pink corners

(photo taken six years ago at an Obon festival)

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