How to delay an airport for 20 minutes and wish upon lanterns

“You have to do exactly as I say, ready? Okay. Rip the plastic paper slowly then open the lantern. Careful though! It’ll get torn. Good? Now, put that square thing on the inside and let me get the candle… Just wait for it to get filled with hot air and then let it go when it’s ready.”

There are many things that can light up and shine bright.

Candles. Lanterns. Ideas.

She let go of it and the lantern shyly headed towards the sky; p
atiently floating at moments and being carried away by the night’s breeze at others. It was just one lantern but it couldn’t get out of sight even if it wanted to – it was the only star that was on the move.

“This has to be one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen.”

“And that’s only one. Imagine if there were more of them.”

“Wait. What if there were more of them?”

***

Usually, when I’m recording a video, I make sure that I
don’t utter a word. I force myself to breath as silently as possible and if I ever feel that I was going to burst out in laughter, I hold it. My voice on recordings is nothing short of terrible. It resonates in a matter that irritates me even though, in real life, it’s not really that bad. I might not sing in the shower but I can ask a question in class without having the people around me cringing.

But that time, I couldn’t help it. As I pointed the lens towards the night sky, I heard myself say: “This is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.”

There are certain moments in life that manage to take your breath away… and that particular moment was the all-time champion of breathtaking.

There’s a public beach in Lebanon that is halfway between unfortunately overlooked and shyly seeking attention. It’s rocky and sandy at once and fiercely guards the nearby skyscrapers. After sunset, rare are the people who took anight stroll by the waves crashing on the shore; but on that particular night, the beach became a world on its own.

Turn off the lights. Put random bunches of people together. Turn on the music. Release lanterns into the sky. Watch.

“This is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.”

In a Beirut that hasn’t managed to stargaze in a long while, the AUB Aie club lighted up the night sky with over 700 lanterns and just as many wishes. As Take That’s We Can Rule The World resonated among the attendees, people stood closer by each other’s’ side with their heads thrown backwards, trying to follow each lantern until it disappeared.

We often think that spiritual moments and religious ones are closely tied together. Well, it’s not always the case. I can either get a couple of hundreds of people and lanterns to prove it to you or you can just believe me.

 

The most beautiful thing that I have ever seen wasn’t just our white bags of light floating far away from our grasp. It was the strangers with lighters running between people, helping them release their lanterns. The moms and dads taking turns in holding the lanterns with their kids waiting till it filled up with enough hot air, and taking the pictures, capturing the moment with their smartphones, iPads and heavy-weight cameras. The stray dogs laying on the sand watching these firefly hybrids fill up the sky. The couples hugging. The kids giggling. A silent sob in the distance.

IMG_0854

The scene whose cheesiness cancels out because the serenity that reigned on the smiling random crowd of people.

The AUB Aie club and its many volunteers pulled off a one-of-a-kind event and did a terrific job. No planes took off for over than 20 minutes They lit up hundreds of lanterns for Lebanon and raised funds for FoodBlessedRemy Rbeiz Young Heart Foundation and
Spring of life.

 

But I’m not trying to praise them here; I’m asking you to follow their lead.

This is both a reminder and a call to all of you.

 

Yes, we are a driving force.

Yes, we can make things happen.

It takes a lantern to make a wish.

It takes all of you combined to make a difference.

 

Now, tell me… What did you delay a whole airport for?

 

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