imaginary outfit: lantern walk

I had never heard of Martinmas or lantern walks until this week, and I am sorry, because after the year we've had, I wish I could have hosted friends today to celebrate kindness and to make little lanterns and go out singing in the dark. There is always next year, I guess. As it is, my mom and Hugh and I spent yesterday afternoon messing around with cardboard boxes, paint and glitter to fashion our own little lanterns to take on a walk tonight at dusk. They aren't as charming as these or these, but we have electric tea lights and they'll do.

One of the most beautiful pieces of art I saw when I lived in New York City was Rangnar Kjartansson's The Visitors. I walked into Luhring Augustine with no expectations and found myself in a dark room filled with screens. Each screen showed a person alone, in the room of a once-grand house, playing an instrument, wearing headphones and singing. Kjartanson is in the bath, playing a guitar. They sing:

There are stars exploding around you
And nothing, nothing you can do.


Once again I fall into my feminine ways.

They repeat these laments, over and over, and it is mesmerizing and beautiful because they are each alone but singing together. After a while, they leave their rooms and find their way to each other, still singing, stepping out of the house, into the light and beauty of a summer's day. I was in tears. I went back to experience it again several times before it closed, and each time left me sad and exhilarated.

At the time, it made me think of the early days of my blog, when it felt like most people on the internet were sharing something from the heart, wanting to find their own voice but always listening for the answering voices, the glad sound of a chorus, no matter how small, that recognized your words and understood. It was a tool for finding kindred spirits and creating new communities, for celebrating difference. Of course, that may not be how it was at all, but that's how it felt to me. And as a mirror to the world, created by the people of the world, it made me hopeful. And so many lost or rare and wonderful things were surfaced.

Other things surfaced, too, and it is hard to know how much damage they will do. This is not an easy time to hold the line for joy, but I think of brave voices and acts of kindness, of friends and small children carrying lanterns and singing together, and these are the things that create the light that helps us through dark times.

I'm off to find my lantern.