Together we rise.

I’d say that this is a sentiment that we need to fight to keep at the forefront of our minds these days. Between the current state of politics in the U.S., the state of human rights throughout the world, and whatever personal struggles we may be facing, it can be easy to get so caught up in our own thoughts and opinions that we forget we’re all here together.

This earth, our world, each other-we’re all here together.

A little over a month ago I had the pleasure of viewing and participating in the annual RiSE Festival in the Moapa Desert outside Las Vegas. I was informed of the festival by a co-worker and as soon as I saw the pictures and videos from years past, I knew this was something I needed to see with my own eyes. Since the festival was occurring 2 days after my birthday (October 5…still celebrating!) I decided to turn the week into a road trip, from Albuquerque to LV and back (check out Secrets of Antelope Canyon and my IG for more pics from the trip). I was so excited that I puruchased my tickets several months in advance and reached out to a few friends to share my plans and see who wanted to join me in Vegas. One friend decided she was down for the cause and my planning began.

We both made our way to Vegas the day before the festival and relaxed the morning of before making our way through the desert to the location of the festivities. Siri got us a little off track (well…can’t blame it all on her…we needed slightly better directions!) but we made it to the particular location on Native Navajo land just in time for a spectacular sunset. As we made our way to the huge RiSE sign and entrance to the festival grounds, I couldn’t help but notice how jovial and kind people were. Everyone was there for different reasons  but there was a general sense of calm and peace in the air. There were families, groups of friends, couples, and individuals, all from varying backgrounds and different pockets of the country (maybe the world) gathering to RiSE together.

The price of entry included and mat to sit on, two paper lanterns, and a marker to write prayers, wishes, names, or whatever each person wanted to put on their lantern. The place was full of fire lamps that provided beautiful ambience once they were all lit. There were 8 sections in a circular formation with a stage at the center for entertainment. There were also food trucks and bathroom facilities on the periphery.

Around 8pm the music entertainment ended and our host, Quddus, provided instruction on how to light the lanterns which was slightly more complicated than one might think (much patience is required).  There was a short countdown. And then the night sky was filled with lanterns rising all around. Some took a bit longer to fill with the hot air that would allow them to rise, some rose as far as the eye could see, others took shorter flights before returning back to the ground, but the sight of all those lanterns, all those prayers, all those memories, all those mistakes and regrets to be forgotten, all those hopes and dreams, the sight was enough to take your breath away. I admit, I shed a tear as my lanterns rose into the sky and my friend did as well.

As I think of that night and think of the state of our nation and our world I wonder what it will take for there to be more of us who are willing to come together, to RiSE together. I think of that night and all the people who had different thoughts, prayers, and goals for that evening and for their lives. In the midst of different goals and varying backgrounds everyone in that space had come together to RiSE together. I think of that night and pray for the day when we will learn to allow our differences to be celebrated, bringing us together rather than tearing us apart.



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