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Shay’s Lantern

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Title:Shay’s Lantern
Authors:Loo, Tani
Date Issued:22 Sep 2017
Abstract:My short story explores the ways in which people deal with illness and the grief and suffering that inevitably follows. Stories are often told linearly according to Freitag’s triangle. The order of the narrative according to Freitag’s triangle is as follows: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Linear narratives, however, are limited to one point of view and time. I chose to employ the modular style, which is a nonlinear narrative technique that breaks from chronological order and set place. Through the modular style, I was able to put emphasis on the most essential memories of the protagonist. Not every moment of their time together is shown, but those moments that are shown help to build the characters’ relationship. The story begins at the annual Lantern Floating ceremony, but when combined, the scenes span a great deal of time.
I was inspired to write this piece after educating myself about the serious effects of heart conditions. Diseases, both known and unknown, can take a tremendous toll on the affected people, families, and friends. I aim to start a conversation about health issues, as well as the unique practices of remembering loved ones who have passed away in Hawai‘i. Specifically, I cite the Lantern Floating ceremony held annually on Memorial Day. While Memorial Day honors people who have fallen in service of our country, many people in Hawai‘i acknowledge the passing of their loved ones as well.
According to Lantern Floating Hawai‘i’s website, the first Lantern Floating Hawai‘i ceremony was in 1999, officiated by her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en. The event was originally held at Ke‘ehi Lagoon, but since 2002, it has been held at Ala Moana Beach Park. The event contains many elements, beginning with individual lanterns (with three sides available for writing) being distributed on the event day for people to personally place the lantern in the water. The ceremony commences once the pū, a Hawaiian conch shell, is sounded; taiko drums offer a prayer for peace and harmony; the oli, a Hawaiian chant, is performed to prepare people for what’s to come; and hula, a visual portrayal of song and chant, is danced. Next, the six large main lanterns are carried onto stage, which carry prayers for every living thing; community leaders come together to signify their unity through the light of harmony; Her Holiness Shinso Ito offers a blessing of all; food and water is offered; water petals are strewn; Shomyo, a fusion of tradition Buddhist and Western chant, is performed; and a bell is rung to signify that the lanterns are to be floated. People who have gathered on Ala Moana Beach Park with their individual lanterns are then allowed to place the lanterns in the water and encourage them to float away. After the ceremony, the lanterns are retrieved, cleaned, and restored for the next year.
The ultimate goal of this piece is to capture the coming together of families in a community such as the one I grew up in and through events such as the Floating Lantern ceremony. At the ceremony, neighbors and complete strangers alike offer unending support to one another. Whether it is due to a heart condition, a tragic accident, or a slow passing away, grief can be lonely. But even when we experience loss, there is togetherness.
Appears in Collections: Horizons, Volume 2

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