the annual all souls' procession occurred in downtown tucson this past sunday.
once more it was a spectacular and awe-inspiring event. i kept telling myself to treat it as not only a spectacle, but a gathered moment of sharing reverent space with thousands of others. in effect, i challenged myself to see it as a spiritual experience.
the artists controlled the streets and led the many on-lookers into their introverted habitat defined by metaphor and symbol moreso than habit and material. they walked on stilts, with elaborate costumes resembling insect drones who swarmed around an even more meticulously crafted "queen." all the while, flam chen performers hung 200 feet in the air suspended by single wires. they spun furiously and independently around a "cocoon" tearing at it until it was nothing but a shredded shell.
an urn passed down the main stage/loading dock behind the rails where thousands of participants and spectators gathered for the grand finale. the moment it was raised into the air as well, the crowd roared and roared and roared ad nausea um. we lost control of our voices and let them arise in a moment of shared effort. as the "queen" metamorphosed into a butterfly with high-rise floating capabilities equipped with a very large torch.
slowly it approached the urn until the energies of the entire night finally converge and..........the urn burned. ashes blew and merged into the air as did everyone's thoughts of reverence, irreverence, joy, depression, contentment, grief, understanding, ignorance and everything else.....they immersed singularly into the blackness of the faroff desert sky.
and at once i remembered and swore by the importance of reverence.