Imagine spending the better part of 24 hours at a grand family reunion that brought together both the living and those that departed the earth much too early due to Cancer. Well, that is exactly what I did this past weekend, at an American Cancer Society annual “Relay for Life” event, and some 100 others were frolicking in the park with their loved ones from heaven and earth as well.
You ask: How can those in heaven join the re-union? How would you even get them an invitation? Well, here is how.
Throughout the day of the Relay, there are numerous ceremonies that put us in touch with our loved ones who died of cancer and who are still surviving the disease. It is an event for the whole family past and present.
The first major ceremony is called: "Messages from Heaven." In this ceremony, earthlings can purchase balloons filled with helium for fifty cents. They then write a message to a deceased loved one, tie it on the string of the balloon, and on cue from the MC, (that’s me of course), release the balloon into the air. As I watched my balloon rise, I knew my mother was with me, and I with her.
The second ceremony is the survivor and caregiver walk, where we honor those who have, for now, remained on the earth and with us in the flesh despite having suffered the tragic disease. A survivor recounts to the crowd her inspirational story of survival. Inspirational music symbolic of overcoming difficult odds comes over the loud speaker and everyone takes a lap around the walking track. A caretaker then recounts his inspirational story of taking care of a family member. Survivors pin an ACS Thank-you pin on their caretaker and another music inspired lap is taken by all.
The third ceremony takes place just after dark and is referred to as Luminaria . Earlier in the day, families and friends decorate white bags in honor of those lost to cancer, fill them with sand and place a candle inside. Just after sundown, the candles are lit and one by one family and friends come to the microphone and read aloud the names of those being remembered. A walk around a track lit with Luminaries is then taken accompanied by more inspirational music.
In between these inspirational ceremonies, the majority of the day is spent hangin’ out at a campsite, walking the makeshift track, and having fun in the sun all the while inspirational rock and roll music is booming out of the loudspeakers to keep the spirits up.
Optimism is enhanced in multiple ways: 1) you feel good about raising money and awareness for an important cause, 2) you reconnect with family and friends past and present in very meaningful ways, 3) you get to camp out and jut have fun, 4) you make new connections and meet new and inspiring people, 4) you get some exercise walking the track, and 5) you realize when it is all over you can look forward to doing this again next year.
Here are some pictures of people having fun and sharing in the spirit of optimism at a Relay for Life. Look for a Relay event in your community and join the fun.
To view some pictures of "Optimism in the Park" go to: http://www.drrussbuss.com
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