Jan 19, 2015


Birds have always been seen as special messengers of hope from above. While bird feathers, besides being engineering masterpieces, are often seen as symbols of reconnecting us with hope, and a belief in the unseen and as yet unknown.

I love finding feathers along my own path whether I am simply walking in my own yard in Oregon where feathers are more likely to have been left from one of my own flock of domestic chickens or along the beautiful beaches along the channels of ocean waters in my home state of Alaska where I reconnect with childhood, family, and the feeling of being home and truly returning to my own nesting rebirth year after year.

In a time of transition, and the beginning of a New Year, I seek the same reconnection. After many months of continuing my own daily life with all of the traditions of family, celebrations and feathering my own nest with the bringing in of the holi-day lights, the creation and giving of gifts, and the joys and sorrows of life and living, reconnecting with my own past took on new meanings this month.

After months of being in an internally aware state of grief for the loss of my youngest sister-in-law to cancer, and the tragic death of a dear family friend of 45 years, I was reconnected with the loss of his wife and daughter just 17 years ago, my best friend of many decades, and my youngest daughter's loss of her best friend since birth. A family that we shared the building of our two homes together on the same acreage, the births and raising of each of our three children to adulthood.

Reconnection to grief and mourning needed to rise up and be filled with constant reminders of life, of light, and of the grace and the beauty of our natural world.And I needed to bring those reminders of the natural and outside world into my my inner and internal world..both in my heart and in my home.

And then a new loss. One of my four little grand-cats was killed in a tragic accident. As someone who has loved animals her entire life, this new loss was just one more on top of those that had come at the end of the year. Again, I reconnected with the deep emapthic grief of anothers loss that mirrored my own and yet, was still my own.

Reconnection is truly connecting to source and to the divine that lives within each of us, just as spirituality connects us to spirit and religion links us back to the beginning and source of all understanding. Our awareness of any separation is simply an illusion or perhaps better yet, an allusion. For each of us is part of one another and a part of all that truly is.

And because I am always finding feathers in my own spiritual journey, birds and feathers as two of the many joys in the gardens of my own life.  And it was all of these feelings, all of this joy, and all of this pain that was transformed into a prayer flag to grace a wall in my home. A wall that rises up the journey of the stairwell...step by step, just as enlightenment in all of its forms and all of its stages, has come into the journey of my life since I was a young child playing in the fern filled forests of Alaska.

I brought in the symbology of the bird feathering her nest, long recognized as signifying hope and of course the feathers as symbols of creating and manifesting the improbable, if not the downright seemingly impossible. With bits and pieces of fabric and thread, yarn, jute, feathers, twigs and twine it speaks without having a voice and is heard without having a pulpit.

Reconnection fills my heart and lights up my soul, my prayer flag graces the steps, the pathway, and the journey as I walk upstairs to my art and quilting areas. With each step, and each new awareness, I seek to rise each and everyday to greater and greater joy, inspiration, and creativity.

And I fill my heart not only with gratitude for each new day, each new step, and each new understanding, and allow the reconnection to soften and gentle within me as grief merges with understanding and joy once again.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King
Be of Service...today and everyday
Reconnect..with empathy, caring, and love with one another.

For as Dr. King has said: "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
And he is also credited with having said: "Be the peace you wish to see in the world."


Reconnect with YOUR past, your present, and how we manifest our own future! I do on an almost daily basis!! Today, I realized for the first time, why I am so drawn to Melanie Testa's Meadolark fabric and why I am constantly drawn to supporting Breast Cancer Awareness. Each of us in our own ways, kicks our challenges to the curb and keep on going..day after day! Here is my latest Melanie Testa Breast Pocket contribution. This one donated at the end of last year to the Quilting Art's Challenge.

For not only did my own mother battle Stage 3b Inflammatory Breast Cancer and come down from Alaska for treatment but she ended up leaving with me and my family for the next 9 months as we battled..first her fear and refusal to go through treatment, but onto intense chemo, a mastectomy, and then intense radiation. She went from less than a 3% chance of surviving to not only surviving, hitting her 5 year benchmark and on to living for many, many more years. That she ended up with severe Alzheimer's and my traveling to Alaska for additional caregiving is another reconnection in so many ways.

This 'Breast Cancer Pocket' was created as soon as I learned that my beautiful 27 year old niece was not only diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2014, but had almost immediate surgery, and is now having chemo, then radiation. Time for not only this breast pocket, but for another prayer flag!!!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!


pollyanna said...

Reconnection is very important in our healing process. My old friend was recently taken off life support and reconnecting with her husband and children was very healing for all of us. peace~~~

Barbara said...

Your flag is beautiful, and your post today very timely for me, on the one year anniversary of my Father's passing. Today, sitting outside with the sun on my face, listening to the sounds of nature, I was feeling a mixture of melancholy and the joy of reconnecting with the true wonders of life. Your words are perfect..."as grief merges with understanding and joy once again". Thank you.

Shanna said...

I just found your blog when I was trying to find a Kuspuk Pattern on google. I think I have spent hours reading through many of your posts on the process of helping your sister with her class. My husband grew up attending the same school your sister taught at the time of those posts.

I am a quilter myself, so I have also enjoyed reading about your journey. I love the beauty and introspection of your prayer flags. Thank you so much for sharing!!

Turn The Page said...

What a beautiful flag! Very inspirational. Great post, thank you for sharing! Aloha

Dawn said...

I found you via Interweave's Quilting Daily and very much enjoyed your post. I am going through a rebirth as now it is 6 months since losing my husband to suicide. Certainly a different event than physical illness, mental illness has it's own set of emotions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and process in making your prayer flag.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Dearest Dawn, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to you. I have a very close friend who lost his sister to suicide. She suffered from postpartum depression and disappeared when the new baby was only two weeks old. It took them a year to find her and know what had happened. She left behind a husband and three children, including that newborn. Trust me, I know how horrendous this is..as far as I can know, since it didn't happen directly to me. I grieve for you and can only hope and pray you will get through this.