Making the lanterns

I have been so privileged to have witnessed the Monks of Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple making this years lanterns for Vesakha “Buddha” Day.
This may seem to some like a trivial thing to talk about, but I assure you it is something that has had a tremendous impact on me.
First of all, there are dozens of these handmade paper lanterns that are made each year for the celebration. Most of them are about 36 inches tall and are made from bamboo sticks, white paper that is barely thicker than toilet paper, and glue that is made from flour and water. Painstakingly, these sticks are bent and tied to form shapes. Then, ever so carefully, the white paper is glued and trimmed. Meanwhile, one of the Monks cuts thin strips of colored paper about 1/2″ wide and cuts horizontal cuts about every 1/8″ inch so it will be more decorative.
After the shape of the lantern has come together, the tedious task begins of gluing these very thin strips of colored paper on every edge of these large lanterns. With nothing but bare fingers and homemade glue, inch by inch the colored paper is put on in a special way so as to ripple it along each seam. It is not just laid flat and glued, every inch of it must be pinched so it ruffles as it goes along each and every seam. Just trying doing this with sticky fingers that are covered with glue. And keep in mind that the glue starts thickening and getting more and more difficult to work with very quickly. So an occasional stop is necessary to go heat some water and thin up the glue again. Cold water cannot be used, as it turns the glue to milky water. Lastly, hand cut paper tassels are carefully glued to each tip of the lantern.
Each lantern takes not only the work of several Monks, but just one lantern takes about 4-5 hours to complete.
Working mostly in a meditative silence, but occasionally talking and laughing, these amazingly loving people work tirelessly day after day after day to create these lanterns for the people to enjoy on this special day. Never a harsh word, nor disagreement. These are Brothers who are so filled with love and compassion, they do this with mindfulness and gratitude.
And if all of this were not enough to touch my heart so deeply, just guess what happens after Vesakha Day.
These beautiful, ornate, painstakingly handmade lanterns are destroyed. Yes, they are torn apart, and only the bamboo sticks are kept for the making of lanterns next year. Just another example of impermanence and letting go of attachments.
Could you or I do this without feeling remorse or anger that so many days and hours of effort went into something that was destroyed in seconds?

This, to me, my friends is such a beautiful living example of meditation and a living breathing dhamma.
I have so much love for all of the Monks. So much respect for them, and gratitude that theirs lives are not only dedicated towards teaching us the path, but living it every moment.
In two lifetimes, I could never repay them for the love, compassion and wisdom they have shared with me.
I can only dedicate myself to reaching this state of selflessness as soon as I am able. That I may one day also be a living, breathing example of loving kindness.

Budu Saranai