The Lantern Walk: Moments that Matter

This is a guest post by Alaya parent and writer, Deborah McNamara and originally appeared on her blog, Unraveled World. We enjoyed her account of one of Alaya's favorite annual traditions - the Lantern Walk.

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With Thanksgiving and the holidays afoot, I find myself considering how to make time and space for more of what really matters. This time of year invites me to go inwards, to create more space for reflection, and to find time to connect more deeply. Its a time for creating or continuing traditions – and for celebrations rooted in what really matters: sharing, gratitude, creativity and joy.

One tradition that I look forward to each November is the annual Lantern Walk hosted by my children’s school. The aim is to cultivate a space for quietness, to take pause, and also to honor the dark and colder nights of the season. We are all invited to remember the light within us, even in darkening times. The kids made their lanterns at school and learned songs to sing. Everyone was reminded that the event is meant to honor the spirit of contemplation and stillness. Cell phones off. Social personality and chatter aside. Together, during a quiet walk with lanterns in hand, we celebrate the dark, cool night, we sing a few quiet tunes, and we take note of the twinkling stars.

The event reminds me of the importance of finding stillness and moments of pause during what can be a busy season. It reminds me to shake up my family routine and get outside, even in the dark evening when I’d usually be moving us towards sleep. It reminds me to create time and space for what matters to me – even if my children might not receive it how I imagine they might. I can support the conditions for these things to arise, and then be ready too to let go into any chaos that might emerge. (Because, well, it usually does!)

This year’s lantern walk held it all. There were the quiet moments holding a hand, and there was giggling and the usual running around in circles orchestrated by my sons and their cousin. There was getting lost from one another and dropped coats and hats. There were candles blown out and tears. But it didn’t matter. We were there together in the spirit of co-creating something special and meaningful. There were moments of magic and appreciation. There was the absolute joy of my youngest son seeing the stars and exclaiming in sheer amazement: “Mom! It is real space up there!” And above all else, I was just thankful for exactly what was – remembering that essential ingredient that guides me to what matters every time: Gratitude! No matter what – just, gratitude.



About the Author

Deborah McNamara is a writer, environmental activist and educator, and mother of three young boys (all of whom have attended Alaya Preschool). She is an Adjunct Faculty member in the Environmental Studies Department at Naropa University, where she received her MA in Environmental Leadership and Ecopsychology. You can read Deborah's writing on motherhood and spiritual practice via her blog at She is also the author of The Invitation of Motherhood: Parenting on the Spiritual Path, coming in 2018. .