Last week, I lighted a candle amidst a thousand origami cranes to express solidarity with victims of the earthquake, tsunami and the still unfolding nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. We were there to remember that a month has already passed since tragedy struck, but Japan and majority of the world still remain in a state of uncertainty, not only because of natural disasters and their economic consequences, but more importantly because of the looming spectre of a nuclear disaster that could have been averted if most of the world opted instead for safer sources rather than nukes.

The origami crane as a peace symbol was made popular by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died as a result of the atomic bomb that exploded in Hiroshima in 1945. According to the story in the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, in the final stages of her illness, Sadako started folding paper cranes, inspired by the Japanese saying that one who folded a thousand paper cranes was granted a wish. Unfortunately, Sadako fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death. Her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her.

After her death, Sadako's friends and schoolmates published a collection of letters in order to raise funds to build a memorial to her and all of the children who had died from the effects of the atomic bomb. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also called the Genbaku Dome. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads:

    "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."

Symbols like the peace crane help us visualize our aspirations. It helps us put into tangible terms our hope during times like these when we need to stand in solidarity with those who are enduring difficult times, helping us to wait and work in eager anticipation of a better world .

The flickering luminosity of the candles that subtly illuminated the cranes harkens us to go not gently into the dark night of these times of uncertainty, but, like Dylan Thomas said, to step up to the call to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

What's so amazing about glimmering lights is that in time they grow into sparkles...that eventually usher in the brightness of dawn, signalling a new day: a day when our hopes for a safer, healthier and peaceful world is finally realized.

    "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."