On the Offering of Solace

(BHUTAN, Paro) Prayer flags in the upper Paro Valley. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

(BHUTAN, Paro) Prayer flags in the upper Paro Valley. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

There were strings of these lung ta prayer flags lining the path on the way up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in the upper Paro valley of Bhutan.

They fluttered in the breeze, purifying and sanctifying the air with the mantras inscribed on their surfaces—and surrendering their blessings to winds that could carry their much needed goodwill to a world badly in need of solace.

Years later, a friend gifted me and Abbey with a set of these prayer flags (a full set will have five flags in colors arranged in a specific order: blue, white, red, green and yellow). Neither of us could figure out where best to hang them in the studio, so in the end, we folded them underneath a statue of Ganesha (yet another gift, in case some of you are wondering if I’ve begun a collection of Buddhist and Hindu iconography).

The flags came to mind, because lately, the air I’ve been breathing appears to be in need of blessing and solace. Death has been touching the people around me in a domino show of loss and grief, and although part of me recognizes that death happens all the time (every moment and everywhere), this particular constellation of endings has been the most populous by far.

And the sadness weighs heavy, though the causes are one degree removed.

All I can do is offer my friends the prayer flag of my intentions.

May the breezes carry their comfort where they can.

This is dedicated to Carol, Jem, Liv, Sarah and Susanand to the many others who share their grief.

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