Thursday, July 19, 2012

Weathering the storms with grace

Prayer flags hang in wind, rain, sun, snow, hail, roadside salt, grime and exhaust.
    If you ever wondered how well a prayer flag will weather the elements, the best way to find out is to hang it out doors and watch it transform.
    The prayer flags shown here were put up last summer at the site of the construction accident that killed my beloved brother Weston. These flags have been hanging between a telephone pole and the supporting guide wires. I think that they look so amazing, weathered but still beautiful, with a patina that comes only with time.
  So if you own one of these community handwoven prayer flags, I encourage you to hang it outside so that the energy of love and peace can fly free on the wind.
    I trust that you will be inspired by how the flag ages with grace.

   Thanks to all for your continued support, your kind comments and most of all your commitment to universal love and peace.
     Namaste ~ Sarah

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What goes around

You know that old expression "What goes around, comes around" ? To me this means what you send out eventually comes back to roost at home. I used to tell my kids that love is a boomerang. If you send it out, it will come back. But like throwing a boomerang, which takes practice and patience, so does sending out love. Each prayer flag from the Woven Voices project is like a little love letter. We send them out across the miles of ocean and land and eventually something comes back here to York.
Last month, I received this email:

Old prayer flag on rock in Wales
Frances reproduction of Wales prayer flag
"I live in Denmark, but originally come from Wales, UK, and often visit. I was in North Wales last year with a good friend, who took me to a deserted slate quarry - mines, ruined houses, spoil heaps, beautiful nature. He is taking part in an art project about the place; he wanted to show me something he had found, tied to a piece of slate fencing facing away from the path that passes by.

I have sent you an image of the piece; as you will see, it resembles your prayer flags to a remarkable degree.  All indications point to it being set up in the late '50's or early '60's.
We had the immediate thought that there would be a message contained in it; none is now visible - if ever there was one.

I HAD to make a reconstruction, which I did on my return to Denmark  - from a few photos and inadequate memory - I have sent an image of that too. ca. 20x20 cm. (both pieces)

The making has been inspirational for me and I have lots of plans to work in this format and with the old piece as a starting point. 
My friend turned up your blog today whilst searching for any kind of indication of WHY the original was tied to the slate.

  -  Do you know of any history concerning small woven messages? We would be grateful for an answer, even if it were negative!
If you are interested, I could keep you informed on the progress we make (if any)." Frances

WOW! I am so amazed by this email. Thank you Frances! I have sent Frances the "Woven Voices: How to Guide" so that she can continue this work in her home in Denmark. You too can receive this guide. Visit the side bar for details.

And then yesterday, this email:

Prayer flags, Emily and  friend at Amma's Ashram
"Dear Sarah,
I'm finally getting around to sending you a photo of the flags I put up at Amma's ashram in Kerala, India (  They were hung by the Western Cafe, where thousands of international visitors will see them.  They will probably get plucked by crows and battered by monsoon winds and rains.  As well, observed by many as they await their ordered food.
Kerala, India, Amma's Ashram
I had six more that were also hung on the roof of one of the buildings. A friend of mine owns a special flat (it was Amma's room years ago) on top of one of the buildings.  She (Meenakshi, a flight attendant from CA) was delighted to hang them on her veranda and enjoy the designs and the prayers.  I'm attaching an aerial view of the ashram.  Meenakshi was going to take pictures; perhaps she already sent them to you.  I had given her one of your flyers.

Thank you for all you do, Sarah.

Two instances, months after the official ending of the Woven Voices project, the love still rippling out to new corners. I am confident that these little woven love letters will be working their invisible magic for years to come. Thanks to all for assisting this journey of love.
The clamshell box open with handmade books and flags.
Thesis on the bookshelf.
     And now with a big is a peek at my completed Masters of Art and Healing! It is now official, I am a Master at Art and Healing! My thesis is a final report and documentation on this project. I created 4 hand-bound books, plus included two flags and other support materials. This final report and documentation is simply a landmark, a big one yes, but I will not stop here.I bet you knew that. I am just resting. Until next time, Peace and Love, Sarah
Text on inside cover

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The end of the beginning

the basket of messages is nearly empty
     Saturday February 11, 2012, I wove the last of the Woven Voices prayer flags. On Sunday, I sewed the edges between the final two rolls of flags.
     During the past two weeks I have been collating data and writing about this four year global peace project for my Masters of Art and Healing. As I set out to do last May, I have created an intentional ending for Woven Voices
     Woven with the threads and messages of these last few prayer flags are many emotions and much reflection. To quote from TS Eliot's The Four Quartets, Little Glidding: 
 "What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
last prayer flags on the loom 2/11/12
 The end is where we start from."
 I am keenly aware that this ending is only a pause, a brief rest before I begin again.
sewing the last prayer flags
the last prayer flag

In this space of refection I have teased out a few lessons learned while guiding this project. In the beginning, I designed Woven Voices in an effort to bring more positive energy to the world through a creative doorway. 

 Now as I reflect back, I see that in parallel with my efforts to change the world, I have changed myself.
prayer flag over traveling waters

In a manner of speaking I have embodied Gandhi's words:"Be the change you want to see in the world." 

  In my Master's thesis I have spelled out nine lessons that spiraled through the four years of Woven Voices. Central to these nine lessons is the lesson of letting go.

Implied in the act of letting go is the action of taking hold.

Like a trapeze artist who has just released one swinging bar, I am paused
in mid-air prior to grabbing a hold of the next bar.

In this mid-air space, I find faith that the lessons learned from Woven Voices will support me until I grab onto the next bar, whatever that might be.
Some Woven Voices facts ~
  • 2,214 messages received and read out loud
  • 12 public readings of messages of hope and peace  at Market Square, Portsmouth, NH
  • 1, 364 prayer flags hand woven by community volunteers
  • over 85 community volunteer weavers
  • 3 volunteer seamstresses
  • Prayer flags hanging in over 29 states
  • St. Paul MN food coop
  • Prayer flags hanging in over 30 foreign lands
There is so much to be proud of and grateful for. 
Kirpalu Retreat Center

Elementary school art room
private garden in PA

Cary, North Carolina

Vero Beach Florida
I cannot bring this project to closure with out acknowledging the many people who volunteered time, materials and finances to support Woven Voices. Thank you for your faith in my vision, your effort and energy to support the project even during the darkest hours of my life last summer.

   The Woven Voices How-To Guide  ~ In an effort to make Woven Voices available to a wider community and in a gesture to continue to ripple effect of this beautiful, loving energy, I have written
 a "how to " guide for the Woven Voices project.
private sanctuary

There is no charge for this16 page booklet. Simply send me an email (address on the side bar) and I will send you a PDF download link.

It is my pleasure to send this project out in the world so that the love and lessons may continue to unfold.

snowy peace at the well

way up high in the trees
In the near future I will post my thesis so you might read all the nine lessons of Woven Voices. For now, I am flying in the space between old and new. 

Blue skies

Eliot continues "We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time."
Yes,  "to make an end is to make a beginning".  
Namaste ~ Sarah