All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blessed are the dreamers

Two men unknowingly gave hope to prisoners over the weekend. I saw it in person.

I have never met Mark Carpenter and Bob Johnson, but they had a dream and they refused to be defeated by the naysayers. Their idea was to create an entry in the ARTWALK competition in Grand Rapids, called LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT GR. They wanted to release thousands of real Chinese lanterns, lifted aloft by the heat from actual flames, over the river in downtown Grand Rapids.

The fire chief didn't like the idea, the Mayor wasn't pleased, others said this wasn't genuine art, some said it had been done elsewhere so it wasn't even original, and then on the night of the scheduled release came rain.

Undaunted, the pair rescheduled the release for last Friday night and this time conditions were perfect. The moon was shining and winds were calm when thousands upon thousands of Chinese lanterns were released. It was an amazing site. Marcia and I watched from the lounge of the Marriott Hotel downtown.

The heavens sparkled, light from the lanterns reflected in the waters of the Grand River and off the shiny glass buildings in the heart of the city. People cheered, wept, oohed and aahed, and hugged...some dedicating the released lanterns to loved ones. It was a magical moment never to be duplicated.

It was as if Carpenter and Johnson had read Shannon Wolf's delightful poem, Blessed are the Dreamers.

It made me think of prisoners. Sometimes all they have is a dream. Yes, realism is important. But so are dreams. As an eternal optimist, I can attest to that.

Let the naysayers claim the charming evening was not art. First prize is no longer important. The dreamers won. It was in the sighs and cheers, especially from the dozens of mentally and physically handicapped who watched from their wheelchairs.

Blessed are the dreamers, Who see the world another way. Who have seen fairies come out at night, And know where unicorns play.

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