By SADIE PRICE-ELLIOTT, age 13

Sadie speaks with Qalvy Grainzvolt, youth leader and clergyman at the Shinnyo Center. PHOTO: Jonathan Tupas
Sadie speaks with Qalvy Grainzvolt, youth leader and clergyman at the Shinnyo Center. PHOTO: Jonathan Tupas

On September 20, I attended the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace ceremony, a day organized by the Shinnyo-en organization and New York’s Buddhist community. They advocate for a world of peaceful coexistence between all people and beings on the earth, and the Lantern Float embodied everything the Shinnyo Center for Meditation and Well-being stands for.

I walked through the festival to the peaceful sound of children reading poetry and elegant dancers spinning along the water’s edge. The serene mood was set by thousands of people who wrote their wishes for peace on countless lanterns that floated around the pool at the Lincoln Center in New York City. As I experienced all the parts of the day, I tried to gather an understanding of what such a ceremony meant to me, and what it meant to all of the people attending.

I had a chance to talk to Qalvy Grainzvolt, youth leader and clergyman at the Shinnyo Center. He told me that one of the main goals behind the event was to give people the time to “seriously take a minute to pause, stop, and think about what this big word of peace means.”

I noticed that every lantern in the pool was uniquely-crafted, from the pattern of its design to the message inscribed. I think that the lanterns are a metaphor that can be used to understand the event. Maybe the lanterns can even be used to begin to understand what the big and powerful word of peace means.

The lanterns were filled with quotes, letters, dreams, and ideas created by people of every age. PHOTO: Jonathan Tupas
The lanterns were filled with quotes, letters, dreams, and ideas created by people of every age. PHOTO: Jonathan Tupas

At night, the whole pool was glowing with lanterns, filled with quotes, letters, dreams, and ideas. They were made by people of every age. Some lanterns came from little children that drew pictures of animals and peace signs, while others were made by teenagers who snapped selfies of themselves as they let their lanterns, filled with thoughts and ambitions, into the water. All together, the lanterns were a lit-up force advocating for peace that came from so many people from all different backgrounds.

The Shinnyo Center works to show people that every single person can make contributions toward a world of peace, and the lanterns represented just that. As Grainzvolt said, “Peace is something that has to come from every part of society.” I believe that is what the Lantern Float means: Peace cannot come from just one person, one place or one generation. It must, and it can, come from all generations, especially the young, working together.