Thursday, April 04, 2013

Qingming Festival 清明节 (China)

Children everywhere (yes, even the children-at-heart), today is the day to parrrr-tay. Get out there to the playground and share the swings. Today is the Chinese festival Qingming (Ching Ming), a day of joy and sorrow, of looking back and ahead. The weather is getting warmer as we move away from the cold of winter and closer to the heat of summer! So lean back, pull on the chains and get those legs going, up, up, up into the sky (be safe and no Superman jumps ok)?

If you’re not on the swings, go fly a kite. No, really. Kite flying is another festival activity of the day and if the conditions are right, kite flying goes on into the night. Special lanterns are rigged to the kites and the stars take on new dancing partners as kites are cut free. Kite flying is a wonderful diversion that I (admittedly) have not enjoyed in a few years. I know of an individual who spent a lot of time on the road and always packed a canvas kite. Rest stops often included a brief outing in sun and wind flying the kite before getting back on the road again. Not a bad idea, if you ask me.

The Qingming Festival is observed in numerous ways and (as already mentioned) children enjoy the outdoors and springtime with play. Adults on the other hand, may be tending to the graves of those who have died by weeding, sweeping and cleaning. Traditional observance includes leaving money, food or wine for the departed as a sign of perpetual care required in the afterlife.

While researching the Qingming Festival, I did not find a clear definition of the term but did find long lists of alternate names for this day. Whatever it’s called and whatever it means, I will venture what I understand to be the theme: life. Enjoy life while you live.

I will venture another thought: the swing remains when you’ve gone and the flowers and weeds will continue to grow. Perhaps the kite symbolizes our leaving life, drifting off into the night-shadow of death.

Qingming Festival is a good day to reflect and project about what’s next, so let me end on a positive note about life: the average person lives about 70 years, so if you are in your 20’s you have about 2,500 weekends to think it over (about 625 are springtime weekends). If you are in your 30’s, you should have somewhere around 2,000 weekends to live. If you are in your 40’s, about 1,500 weekends (nearly 375 would be springtime weekends). In your 50’s? Perhaps you are thinking about how to live the next 1,000 weekends.

Abundant life is the gift of your Creator. Do you have it?

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