Sunday, December 26, 2010

Have prayer flags...will travel!

Sarah at the loom!
Yes!!....thanks to everyone..... there are 130 prayer flag traveling with me to South Africa and then across the Atlantic all the way to the Caribbean.

Pat and her brilliant smile!
For the past three weeks, almost two dozen community volunteers came to the studio to weave prayer flags.

Pam and Sally get acquainted as they weave.
Most folks who come have never woven. It is my joy to share this creative and meditative way to share good will.

Cleone's hand fly as they weave.
Busy hands, happy heart.

Read more...check out the York Independent story about this community art project. Pages 4-5.

Lesley and Mark came for the last night of weaving.

Mark, the only guy who rose to the challenge!
Friends Lesley and Mark came for dinner and the final weaving date.

Prayer flags all ready to be sewn

The last evening in the studio, we had a spontaneous party! Three weavers, plus me, two dogs and two guitars. Music, singing, glad hearts....all lifting me to travel lightly with an open heart.
Ben and Nancy offer sweet music.

I am so blessed to be traveling on this mission ~
  Art-ambassador of peace and love from Maine.

See you in March ~ Sarah

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Closing in !

She who breathes
This week we had seven weavers in the studio. Women who came and breathed their energy into this project. I thought this prayer flag message particularly appropriate!

One world, one people
Each flag is woven with messages that come from all over the world. Many voices for peace, for hope, for love.

Love music
Each message is read many times before it finally gets woven into the prayer flag. Then the message is often fractured and the language becomes mixed with other language.

This prayer flags reads: "I love music for awake people to be awake." Interpret this however you like.

I see compassion and joy.

Forgiveness Forever.Yes to that.

Weave Hope

This week we are closing in on the 100 prayer flag goal. Many many thanks to everyone for the support, words of encouragement and energy.

Our world is moving like the sun; moving ever so slowly and steadily toward a new horizon.

Happy Solstice ~ Sarah

Sunday, December 12, 2010

54 and counting !!

weaving messages of peace
This week nine lovely weavers came to the studio to weave prayer flags. These people came in response to my invitation/challenge to the community to help me weave 100 prayer flags to take on my trip to South Africa and the Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean.

Weaving in the spirit

Some people came in the company of a friend, some came as individuals. Some people had never woven before, some had woven as younger people.

What color is hope?
All came with an open heart and open mind.

There are now 54 beautifully woven prayer flags ready to travel.

Open hearted weaving

Thank you to everyone who has given time, effort and your words of support.

With more weavers coming this week, we will surely meet the goal of 100 flags to travel!

Sewing the prayer flags after they are cut off the loom.

Namaste ~ Sarah

Friday, December 3, 2010

100 prayer flags for the world ~ Come weave!

In about three weeks, I will be heading off for a very special trip. I will be flying to Cape Town, South Africa via Dubai. I will spend about 2 weeks there before casting off and sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. I will be joining my friend Nat who has been circumnavigating the globe since late 2005 aboard Bahati, a 43' Montevideo Cutter.

While in South Africa, I will have about 2 weeks prior to embarking. During that time I hope to travel, see sites and connect with communities, schools and art/craft organizations. 

100 Prayer flags
 My goal is to weave 100 prayer flags before I leave. My vision is to have a stack of prayer flags to give freely while in South Africa, as well as on the isolated islands that we will stop at en-route.

We plan to stop at St. Helena and Ascension Island.  
How amazing to be able to leave a string of prayer flags at these remote communities!
St Helena ~ North West of South Africa

 So I send out this blog as an invitation to come to my studio to weave. Let me know what time/day works for you and we'll make a date. I ask for only a two hour window of your time.

For those of you who live at a distance, your words of support feed this project as well as the actions of those who are able to physically lend a hand. Every action is noticed and received with love.

With continued heartfelt gratitude for all your words and actions of support ~ Sarah

Friday, November 19, 2010

We all need a friend

Minutes before noon, November 11th, in Market Square, Portsmouth, the brisk wind grabbed at the prayer flags as I tied them to the trees. Across the street, there was plenty of sunshine, warming the folks sitting outside on the cafe plaza. It is a federal holiday, so there are plenty of people passing this way and that. But I am here, in the shade in front of the North Church, standing apart.

As the church bells strike the noon, I reach into the bag of messages to begin reading. I am feeling awkward, wondering if I will do this whole hour by myself. Minutes go by.

I read many messages to the wind, to the tourists strolling by, to those locals with a sweet day off, to students free from the confines of school. Trying to make eye contact, struggling to be present to the beauty of each message, I find myself feeling self conscious and awkwardly alone.

Then I see a friend across the square. And then another friend and slowly more friends appear. Then a guy with an instrument case walks up and says "Do you mind if I play my sax?"

"Wow...sure, music would be a sweet addition to our voices as we read our messages of peace!" I respond. So to the sweet tunes of saxophone, our voices sing out the words of hope, dreams, well being and prayer to all beings on this planet.

Friends came and went and all 250 messages were read out loud, were honored and heard. The church bell struck one o'clock, I rolled up the prayer flags that had hung in trees, packed up the read messages and dropped some cash in the saxophone's cup. All was well.

A week later as I reflect back on my emotions on that day, I realize my initial feelings of awkwardness stemmed from my need to feel a sense of validation for the act of standing apart, for doing something in public that might be viewed as "strange". The lesson I take away from this Nov. 11th reading is to hold  firmly on to the vision that this project is about weaving TOGETHER voices that sing for peace and compassion for all. In that spirit I am not alone.

The folks who were able to show up are symbols for the many many others who are with me in spirit. I know and feel your affirmation for this work. Deep gratitude for all your messages, your words of encouragement and your volunteering to weave the prayer flags. We are all in this journey together.

In this spirit of community and collective vision, here are a string of prayer flags I sent to a colleague in Deming,Washington. To quote Jillian... "they hang at Presence Studio in Bellingham and await transport to the new Center for Local Self-Reliance Community Garden in Fairhaven Park in Bellingham....moveable feast of prayers."

Last weekend I traveled to Downington, Pennsylvania to a chanting and meditation retreat with Russill Paul at Hari Om Mandir. This was a three day retreat that culminated in a beautiful puja and kirtan to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi.
I brought a few prayer flags with me, and tied one in the trees out behind the temple.

In closing, I affirm that my voice, my effort, my prayer is but one amongst many who are singing, chanting, speaking, moving towards a more compassionate planet. Our voices weave together in beauty.

Thank you for joining me. Namaste ~ Sarah

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Rhythym of Life

messages of peace and hope

Autumn has settled into coastal Maine. Like the squirrels and chipmunks outside my studio window, I am industrious and busy. The four seasons of New England are so distinct and unique, that even a life-long resident of this area notices the rhythm and return of each season.

Akin to the pattern of seasons, the Woven Voices project has a distinct rhythm and sequence. First come all your amazing and heartfelt messages. Each one is written or drawn with love, compassion and care. Since December 20007, over 1700 messages have been received.
Over the summer, several bundles of messages arrived from a variety of organizations and individuals. I have about 250 messages that have been gathered since this past May.

reading messages in Market Square
The next step in the project is to read these messages out loud in a public location. On November 11th at noon in Market Square in Portsmouth, NH I will be reading these messages. Please join me on the 11th to read, listen and witness the affirmation of positive intention.  
volunteers weave the flags
After the messages have been read, I bring them home to my studio. They are cut into strips that are appropriate for weaving. Then they are woven by volunteers into small prayer flags. So far the project has had over 60 volunteers in almost three years.

sewing the edges of the prayer flags
The flags are woven in a long continuous strip on the loom. After several are woven, we cut them off the loom and sew the top and bottom edges. Then they are ready to be given away. Over 400 prayer flags have been woven and given away.
Sante Fe New Mexico
Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa
I send them to the folks who have sent me messages. I give them to friends who are traveling. 

Mothers' Day Gathering for Peace, Sohomish, Washington, sent by colleague Gabriele Bartholomew.

 I give them to the volunteers who come weave. I give them to people who visit my studio. I take them with me when I travel. For example, this fall in Oakland CA I took a graduate course that was about 2 miles from the hotel where I stayed. Every morning on my way to class, I would walk along the edge of Lake Merritt.
Oakland CA September 2010
Each morning I would see a homeless man sleeping under this tree.
Lake Merritt, Oakland CA
On my afternoon walk back, I would see this man and several other gathered along the edge of the park in the shade. On the last day of class, I had one flag left to disperse (others had been given as gifts to faculty, friends, classmates).  Suddenly remembering this homeless man, I walked across the lake and found him sitting with friends. I inquired if it would be all right to hang the flag in his tree, to decorate his home. He said "Yes, please. God Bless you." 

This is the last step in the cycle of the Woven Voices project. This gift of offering hope, love, honor, recognition and homage from one human to another. In the simple gift of a small woven flag, we can create connections, foster hope and thread by thread build a better world. So, once again, thanks to each of you have have supported, contributed and honored this project.

In celebration of that effort, I want to shine a light on a recently published novel by a friend ~ "A Slender Thread" by Katherine Davis.  This novel explores the relationships and life of a weaver, Lacey, who has recently discovered that she has lost her ability to speak. As her family and more specifically her sister struggle to help her, Lacey uses her weaving to find a new voice and to uncover the threads that bind us in love.  Katherine consulted with me while researching weaving techniques and came to weave prayer flags last summer. The book, A Slender Thread" gives a gracious nod to the Woven Voices Project. Thanks Kitty!!

Malibu, CA
Please remember, this is a community global art project. Your messages, your voice reading the messages, your weaving of the prayer flags, your hanging the flags in public and giving the away...all of this builds community, fostering hope and peace.  

Thank you many times over for all this ~ Sarah

Friday, July 16, 2010

I've been to Bali and back

The Woven Voices project continues to grow and grow, almost like the peas in my garden that I planted last April. Every time I turn around there are more pods on the vines to harvest. And here I am to offer to you a bounty of photographs and notes for the Woven Voices project from all around the world.

A neighbor and friend Sally, went to India this winter. I gave her two flags to give away. Here she is hanging them at the Bohdi tree where Buddha the Gotma  became enlightened. 

Here is the plaque that explains about the tree.

Here's what Sally writes:  "This is the spot where Buddha gave his first teaching. Here I actually attached a prayer flag to to Bhodi tree where the pilgrims gather to pray."
The shrine in front on the tree. And another prayer flag hanging inside the shrine. Thanks Sally! Wow!

Back in the USA, my friend Marian in Bellingham, Washington sent me this photo of her prayer flag hanging in her garden. Such sweet, green lushness of the Northwest. Thanks Marian!

And here in the East, a colleague that I met at a symposium this spring in CT has taken the initiative to gather messages for the project. Karen Rossi has graciously set up a table at the Norfolk Framer's Market in Norfolk CT where she plans to gather messages all summer. She says "the experience of collecting the messages is a wonderful gift." I am ever grateful for your effort Karen! I look forward to seeing/reading the messages! Please check out Karen's website. She is an amazing artist who makes these really cool metal sculptures.

And then there was my trip to Bali. I brought 7 Woven Voices prayer flags with me on the trip. The first prayer flag went to Janice and Made, the owners of the BaliKana Resort in the Gili Islands off Lombok, Indonesia. Janice was so moved by the gift of the flag that she immediately found a perfect place to hang it in the gardens in front of the hotel, next to the big laughing Buddha.

We had a wonderful time here on this little oasis off Lombok and a couple of hours by boat from Bali. It is a quaint island with no cars, only these horse drawn carts. The snorkeling was AMAZING!!

The local people survive by fishing and tourism. While we were sitting on the beach between swims, we were often approached to by peddlers to purchase local pearls. We finally succumbed...and I love my new black pearls! The young man who sold us the pearls was very skilled at speaking English, and so after a bit of conversation I asked him if he would contribute a message of good will or peace for my project.

This was my first lesson in Indonesian and Balinese sense of living in the present moment. This fellow's name is Mawa and his message says something to the effect "I just sold some pearls and I am so happy." Wow. So simple, in the moment, and filled with honest gratitude.

At BaliKana there were also two young boys that we called the "cabana boys". Tom and Wayan were young men who served our beach-side meals and drinks, fetched towels, moved chairs and more. Their smiles and genuine presence filled my heart with joy. Here they are writing messages for the project. I gave them each a prayer flag.

My friend Nat is sailing around the world. He left over three years ago  from Freeport, Maine and he has been lingering around New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia for a year. When I was in Bali this June, we met up for a weekend in Ubud, Bali. I gave him one of the seven flags to hang on his sloop Bahati. Nat writes "I have temporarily hung the prayer flag on the wood keep it warm? ....and safe! Don't want to hang it in the rigging for fear of damage!! Besides it's nice to look at it in the salon."

As Nat travels onward heading West towards home, his prayer flag will spread goodwill across the waters.

The next prayer flag that I gave away as left at a temple called Pura Hyang Api in the village of Desa Kelusa. I went here to participate in something called the Bali Hash House Harriers.

A group of mostly ex-pats gather twice weekly to run or walk through villages, pristine rice terraces and jungle ravines of Bali. Right next to where we started our walk/run was this small temple. I snuck in there and hung a prayer flag.

While in Ubud we met with a young woman who has become friends with our friends who live in Bali. She is trying to start a business selling ikat handwoven sarong. So I bought a few from her and gave her a prayer flag too! Widi has the most wonderful smile! 

 Our final days in Bali were spent on a 'round island tour with Astika, a Balinese priest, who is a friend of our friends as well as a tour guide. On the first day one of the places that Astika took us was to the village of Tenganan Pegringsingan.
This is the only place on the island where true doulbe ikat is still woven.

We visited the home/shop of Ni Kadek Trisnawati a traditional ikat weaver.

 She is from a long lineage of weavers, and uses the loom that her grandfather built.

Her ikat fabrics are amazing.

This is one of her more intricate double ikat pieces.

This is the warp in the process of dying and tying.

Here is the piece that I bought, a stunning, double ikat check.  Kadek and my husband Ben are modeling the piece together. I gave Kadek a prayer flag and she wrote me a message. Sweet exchange from one weaver to another.

 My final prayer flag was given away to Astika, our driver, priest, tour guide. On the final day of our tour he, his wife and son arranged and help perform a traditional Balinese Hindi blessing at two temples. Here we are dressed in traditional Balinese temple clothing, with Astika's wife.

The final temple was Tanah Lot, a famous temple on the west coast that is a HUGE tourist attraction. We were able to go out to the small temple on the small separate the island, accessible only at low tide, where no other tourists were allowed. Look at all the tourists lining the rocks!

The view from this rock temple was magnificent!

Up on this rocky temple we had the most sacred blessing with Astika, his wife, his son and another priest. A glorious moment in time, and a wonderful way to end our two week visit to Bali!

So there you have it, seven prayer flags with seven messages of peace and goodwill. Seven prayer flags spreading your hopes to people of all faiths and many cultures.

Thanks to everyone for the continued support. Keep the messages coming...and PLEASE come weave if your are able!

Namaste and Peace,