Light in (actually just before) August

Dear Luminescent Readers,

Out of the blue today, I received these pictures from someone who has been a dear friend since our days in South Korea.

We have remained close (at least in mind if not location) over the past 2 decades–weathering life and death storms via letters and emails. In person, way back in late ’80s Seoul, we endured something so horrific that we are undoubtedly bound forever.

These beautiful pictures popped into my inbox this morning, with the accompanying message:

Last Thursday night, I went to the memorial lantern festival held in one of the big, gorgeous old cemeteries around here. I’ve been a number of times — it’s a big picnic with music, where folks can launch memorial lanterns in the Japanese style in honor of departed loved ones. Since I was getting one for my mom, I decided to launch one for Dr. B. as well. After his time in Asia I suspect he’d appreciate the tradition. At the very least, I know you would!

Thank you, Christine. I do appreciate the idea–and you–very much. The tradition connects me with “Dr. B” but also helps me let him go, too. A truly wonderful state of opposites–something I came to love about my experiences in Asia and, truth be told, my life with the complicated Beauregard Lee Bercaw.

I chose “Light in August” as the title for this post because these lanterns in the evening sky reminded me of the changing sunlight of early fall–a softened light leading us toward sunset and the dead of winter. As many people probably are well aware, “Light in August” is the name of a book by William Faulkner.  When asked why he called it so, Faulkner gave the following response:

“. . .in August in Mississippi there’s a few days somewhere about the middle of the month when suddenly there’s a foretaste of fall, it’s cool, there’s a lambence, a soft, a luminous quality to the light, as though it came not from just today but from back in the old classic times. It might have fauns and satyrs and the gods and—from Greece, from Olympus in it somewhere. It lasts just for a day or two, then it’s gone. . .the title reminded me of that time, of a luminosity older than our Christian civilization.”

On this late July day, courtesy of Christine’s Japanese lanterns, I recall the luminosity of my Virginian father–fleeting yet unforgettable, like the Mississippi light in August.



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