Wednesday, January 22, 2014

my humble offering (praying true)

I confess my spirits have been on a monster ride of a roller coaster these past few weeks.  A recent setback challenge had me questioning the Universe's resistance to throwing me a bone just this one time.  Of course when I came out of my funk I realized that in truth the Universe is certainly pelting me with bones that clatter to the ground unnoticed and unappreciated.  

Still, there are moments when one must kiss the emotional skinned knee, wipe away the tears of my tantrum and with washed eyes and soul consider what is before me.  What positive change can I make within myself? 

I can create, I can offer my words, my prayers for something beyond my own immediate sense of satisfaction or self fulfillment. (I know I tease you by not mentioning what exactly disappointed me, but in all honesty while I felt immense frustration with the course of my efforts, I also am able to perceive within the larger scheme of things where my actions are tiny and where they hold the potential for immensity.  And so I choose once again to align myself with possibility ...) 

There is a beautiful movement - Praying True -  happening in my least favorite of places, yes ... Facebook.  A call to prayer, a call to creative acts of love and healing for our planet, for ourselves, for all of life.  To quote one of the co-creators of Praying True (and my beautiful friend, Jane):

The idea of gathering through time and space in a monthly practice to nourish our beloved planet is a cornerstone of our creative response to what we know to be damaging. We gather with a belief that the world is hungry for our attention and our gratitude. Our prayers grow synergistically when we remember how this commitment to Praying True joins us together, holding hands in a circle right around the globe, we are offering something beautiful to replenish this world from which so much has been taken.

This yearning to contribute and to support healing that so urgently needs to take place within our communities, within families and especially for our planet has been brewing within me for years.  Even as a child I remember my dismay at learning about the threat posed to whales due to hunting driven by insatiable demands of human consumption and greed.  And I remember wondering how could I possibly make a difference. 


It seems I needed to begin with myself.  Honoring my gifts, my ability to generate change within the tiny orbit of my life, I can envision my efforts pooling into a collective stream of prayers, actions, and attitudes that will result in change.  There has to be a shift from the mentality of take take take and dropping the sham that our actions have little impact. Because that is the lie that has lead to destruction, to depletion, to a neglect that has our waters polluted, our oceans toxic, our planet stripped and suffering. If I can harm, I can also heal.

When I feel cut off or isolated that is a red flag for me not to burrow deeper into my cave, but to seek out sources of Light and inspiration.  So overcoming many resistances (not least being Facebook) I turned to Praying True because, well, I hadn't felt myself able or up to the task until now.

Praying True is a worldwide community for everyone who wishes to give back to the earth with simplicity, loving intention and compassion. Our vision is to bring back love to our human relationship with All That Is, to encourage people to pray regularly for our world in whatever way flows through each person, creating ritual from the heart and in the moment with what is at hand. Then afterward, to share their truth through art making of any kind, posting it here to inspire others to honor the gift of life on this beautiful planet. (from Praying True Group Page)

What I do, I do first for me, for the repair of my own heart.  Borrowing words for a Metta or loving kindness meditation, I make my way to my meditation cushion each morning and after I light a candle (the only light in the dark of my morning) I repeat to myself this prayer:

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be strong
May I live with ease 

 In Metta meditation you begin by offering the prayer first to yourself. I silently repeat the prayer until I feel it seeping into me, until I feel myself allowing myself to receive the well-being behind these wishes. I then extend the prayer to a loved one, my words flowing out to them.  I continue to expand the prayer to cover someone I may know, but I feel neutral towards (holding no strong feelings of attachment or aversion) and then offer the prayer to all beings before ending with my prayer for Mother Earth itself. (In true Metta meditation one will also offer the prayer to someone with whom there is difficulty or a conflict; this is the advanced practice!) 

Wanting to connect even deeper and more mindfully with a regular practice of connecting my desire to heal myself with prayers to heal our planet, I found myself making a string of prayer flags.  

I am reminded of a story about a king offering a sufi mystic a gift of a pair of golden scissors.  The mystic informs the king that while the gift may be beautiful, it is useless to the mystic.

A needle I need because a needle puts things together. I teach love. My whole teaching is based on love — putting things together, teaching people communion. I need a needle so that I can put people together. The scissors are useless; they cut, they disconnect. Next time when you come, just an ordinary needle will be enough. 
(story from Osho NeoTarot cards which are no longer available, but the text can be found is here)

I sewed together the individual squares using my mother's sewing machine.  I found myself thinking about her generation and how necessity compelled them to re-purpose and reuse materials.  My mother would tell me how her grandmother made her dresses from fabric that had once been flour sacks.  Scraps of twine, tin foil, paper all were saved and used again and again.  How quickly these habits of conservation were abandoned once the immediate need was gone.  For my mother, homemade signified poverty and lack, but now we are attempting to revalue the repaired, the refurbished, the re-purposed.  

As I pieced my prayer flag together I was reminded of the fact that any true or lasting change will have to begin at the level of home.  I am trying to teach my girl the importance of conserving water, thinking environmentally and recognizing how choices like packing her lunch in reusable containers can have a deep and lasting impact. She reminds me to turn off lights! (As a child I had a cardboard placard that read Don't Be Fuelish hanging on my wall ... my father having worked on that energy campaign in the 1970s.)

Completing my flag, I took a fabric pen and wrote  out my prayers so that the winds may carry my heartfelt wishes to Mother Earth. Inspired by the mindful actions shared in this video by Jane, I carefully selected my totems and words.

owl for wisdom and to see in the dark; stars to include air and space

bee for her vital role in sustaining our green world

bear because if ever there were a time to summon the energy of mama bear, it is now

frog for cleansing and for the health of all creatures of water and sea

strawberries for the sweetness that is Life and a reminder of what is at stake

Now I watch the flags dance in the stiff winter winds and I find myself connecting again and again to the prayers that align my heart with the hearts of so many.  May we all be safe, may we all be healthy, may we all be strong, may we all live with ease. And may our prayers surround our planet in a cocoon of love and support so that she may recover and heal from the wounds of our ignorance.


What words, what prayers, what gestures are yours alone to make?  Will you add your voice to ours?  Open your hand, open your heart, open your mouth and release the prayer that is yours alone to make. It is needed.  And it will bring you home in a way that cannot be explained but joyfully experienced.



  1. speechless . feeling a little lump in my throat and some tears forming

  2. Metta is one of my favorite practices. I love your project, may all your wishes come true.

  3. Love you so much, sister. This post has inspired me in so many ways - reminding me of metta, the prayer flags are lovely. Thank you thank you thank you.

  4. Beautiful! Love the Metta meditation, need to get back to it. Loving my prayer flags, thank you. xoxo