May 21, 2013

Garlands of Prayers: For Everyone, Everywhere

My now completed garland of prayer flags waves across the entry way in our home in Salem, Oregon. I feel their grace, their power, and their love.... every time I look up, or pass under them.

And I look in absolute and utter amazement at this KTSX news photo of a school ceiling in Oklahoma.

The signs of the horrific devastation of a tornado's path. Tattered curtains and broken lights and a view of the heavens above. An incredibly powerful image that evokes the feeling of prayer flags and bells.

Prayers now released and finding their way across the 2 mile wide path of destruction. Beauty of spirit within chaos, loss, pain, and destruction. And it reminds me of my own roots and why I am so drawn to these signs, and symbols of something far greater than just the destruction.

I am reminded that after everything else is destroyed..there is still goodness. and there is still great love. Beauty of spirit within chaos, loss, pain, and destruction. And it reminds me of my own roots and why I am so drawn to these signs, and symbols of something far greater than just the destruction.
I have loved prayer flags, garlands, vintage homemade bits and pieces,mother of pearl buttons, and yes....even burlap and the simplest of muslin, for as long as I can remember.

As a young girl who played outside in magical fern filled forests of my
childhood Douglas Island home in Alaska, I delighted in being one with nature, collecting things that I loved from my exterior world, and giving them safe harbor in my own little magical world that I created.

We had very few stores, and every thing we had was made at home, bought from someone else, or shipped up on freight boats once every few months from 'the states'. Every thing had great value, was collected, and treasured, reclaimed, and reused. Nothing went to waste because if we couldn't use it in one form or another....some one else could! It just took far too long to order something we made things ourselves, or we made do.

I learned to hand sew as a very young girl and to sew on my Alaskan grandmother's treadle sewing machine by the time I was twelve. My Alaskan Finnish grandmother sewed, knit and crocheted, and tatted. And then of course she did all of the usual and unusual cooking, cleaning and care giving of her large family. The men hunted and fished for food and the women washed, cleaned, ironed, cooked, and did the endless laundry.

We had an outdoor hanging platform..a large wooden deck-like structure. You climbed up onto its platform from stairs and then used pulleys attached to a moving clothesline to hang up the laundry with old fashioned clothes pins. It was high up in her (our) back yard, in order for the drying laundry to reach high up into the sky for sunlight, above all of the fruit trees, and potato and lettuce patch that my grandfather had planted. We yearned for sunlight and with a great deal of rain, snow, and was always magical to watch laundry actually hanging up, and out, and waving in our Alaskan winds.

Perhaps, that is why I still love to hang things from surfaces and watch their movement, their saving up... and then, releasing magical energies, today. I loved that old platform so much! It was my fort and my fortress of solitude. With blankets and quilts, it was my cave and my hideaway. I took in dozens and dozens of stray cats and brought leftovers out to feed them. Born to my Finnish Alaskan father, and my French Louisianan mother, who met as penpals across the thousands of miles..finally, finally met and married after WWII.

I grew up..for a short while in Louisiana, and then for the rest of childhood into adulthood in Alaska,first as it was a territory, and then became a State of its own. And such a wonderful state, I lived in. Full of magic and childhood imaginings. I was a dreamer and an inventor of fantasies and maker of many wonderful and magical things.

All of my earliest prayer flags..and back then, I didn't know there were even such things..were simply things hung up to wave. Flags, and garlands, flowers and ferns, tree limbs of moss, or bits of fabric that no one wanted or used. A series of paper dolls cut from many months old newspaper used to wrap our purchases became a garland. Burlap bags and flour sacks became invaluable treasures with far away images and names.

All of my prayer flag strips and strings were hung outside and spread their love. In time they became one and like all things disintegrated into every thing else. So, really and truly one then, you see?

Today, I am sharing my final completion of all of the prayer flags that I made since I shared the very first one of the series was dedicated to the people of Boston. And now, I am thinking of so many others.

And now, once again...another tragedy.; I am listening to the news as I am typing this post and I hear about the horrific tornadoes and the 200 m.p.h. gale force that has devastated the area of Moore, Oklahoma.

My prayer garland is hanging from the lofted rails in our entry way to our house. Every single person who enters our home walks under them. I have watched them (both the prayer flags and the people) in action, and yes! The prayer flags move with the opening of the door and the wind that comes in, and the people entering often look up with faces of wonder. Wondering, I am sure what they are ;)

Mother Theresa: " Spread love everywhere you go. Let no come to you without leaving happier."

Victor Hugo: "Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced that we are loved."

Another one from Mother Theresa: " Spread love wherever you go. Let no come to you without leaving happier."

Vincent Van Gogh: "Love is something eternal. The aspect may change but not the essence."

Antoine de St.Exupery: "Love is not just looking at each other. It is looking in the same direction.

A Swedish Proverb: "A life without love is like a year without summer."

Flavia Weedn: "May love be the ribbon you wrap around every memory. May faith be the silken thread you weave around every dream."

And from Vincent Van Gogh, again: "Love is something eternal. The aspect may change but not the essence."

If you enlarge them you can read the quotes, see the pieces of vintage crochet, the mother of pearl buttons and simple utility stitching and cotton thread ribbons. . Feel the love with which I made them, feel the love with which I share them. allow the winds of love to wash over and through you, and bless you. Because they, and I, just did!

And now, take all that love, and send to others..everywhere. Send it those now facing devastation and loss everywhere, to the people of Boston, to our President, his cabinet and our Congress, to families, and soldiers, and laborers, and simple people just trying to get by as we all do in all of our homes, wherever we are.

But most of all, for today and everyday looking forward..send your love...lots and lots of prayers and love to the people of this horrific tornado in Oklahoma. I see the news on t.v. now. I can hear the cries of the children buried in the rubble. Hear the wailing of their parents..whose who search and those who have found them. See the devastating and unbelievable loss of so many homes, so many lives, so many people. This is another one of those tragedies of unparalleled scope and depth of pain and loss.

Feel our connection to each of them, feel how we are truly just one. We are all connected by the heart strings and the silken threads, and the rough burlap, and the softest of cottons. We are all connected and held together by utility hand stitches and much smaller machine made ones. We are all holding ourselves together, holding on to one another and all trying so hard to feel and share every one, every where we go.

Send your garlands and garlands of prayers across the winds of time and everywhere, everywhere. Feel and send the love.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska, as she sews, quilts, and creates small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in her Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!


Nayala said...

A Catholic Pope said whoever prays singing, prays twice ... I think anyone who does sewing, multiply your prayers for three

Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh, how I love this!!!! Thank you so very, very much for sharing it!

Cher said... very well said and thank you for the photos, the quotes, and the love that you never fail to express...

Sue said...

Thank you and Amen!