And they danced, with very few inhibitions.
And then finally it was dark enough, and the procession of paper lanterns started to move. A lump formed in my throat with the beauty of it. And I was warmed to see the children so obviously proud of their lanterns and so happy to be a part of something truly unique.
And so we walked, slowly, through the streets of New Plymouth, on a light-bearing mission all together. Despite the crowds, no one pushed or shoved. No one rushed. We did not worry about our children up ahead in the darkness walking with their friends. We could not see them. But we knew there was light amongst them. We smiled.
We could not see the faces of the people lining the streets to watch the parade because they were in darkness. But the children in the parade held their lanterns high and shone their light all around them.
Light. So much light. Light everywhere.
And when we finally returned to our starting point we thought we would have to extinguish our lights and disperse. We lingered. No one wanted it to be over yet. No one turned off their light. "What now?" I heard someone ask, echoing what I had already asked myself.
And it wasn't over yet. There was more light.
I saw light tonight. Lanterns moving their way through darkened city streets, and fireworks brightening up the inky sky, yes. But I also saw light in how the children played together. I saw light in their enthusiasm, trust, energy and appreciation of little things, like paper seahorses and paper ships. I saw light in their innate sense of fun. But most of all, I saw light in the shining eyes of their little unveiled faces. Eyes that spoke of a deeper, truer light. Eyes that revealed the kingdom of heaven.
I saw light tonight. And I was blessed.