Prayer flags

When I’m at home I almost always run the same loop.  A creature of habit through and through, I am.  The route takes me past the used bookstore that I used to go to as a kid with my sister and father, past a kid-friendly restaurant where I ate when both of my children were small, and past a front porch festooned with prayer flags.

It’s those prayer flags that are on my mind today.  They are tattered from from being whipped around by the wind, bleached out from the sun and rain.  Yet every day they recommit to the same task, snapping around according to the wind’s whimsy.  Even with their faded, worn-out fabric they continue to transmit their hopes, their prayers, to the world.

I feel similarly buffeted by the wind, likewise faded from the elements.  It’s been, as I’ve written, a summer full of wind and sunshine, memories and joyful moments, but also one that has bruised my heart and made me feel tired in a bone-deep way.  The reasons are personal and I’m aware of and sorry for being a broken record.

Still, the prayer flags snap away as their edges fray and their colors fade.  I’m not sure I have the same conviction about my prayers and hopes as do those small squares of colorful fabric, though I wish I did.   I picture them in my mind’s eye, take a deep breath, try to inflate my exhausted heart, and steel myself for more winds ahead.  May I keep waving.

13 thoughts on “Prayer flags”

  1. Lindsey,

    Not a broken record, someone on a spiraling path into their deepest self. Navigating the choppy waters of the up-close and personal often proves the most difficult thing we ever have to do. And if we feel tugged and pulled in various directions by old and strong ties, especially when we are at a tipping point or a place of transition – then some days just standing still takes all the energy we have. Keep walking, I think you are on the verge of stepping into your life in a new way. Stop and rest, and tend your bruised heart, when you need to. Keep swimming through the fog. When the sun finally breaks, you may be amazed at the vast new world opening up before you.



  2. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing a difficult time. This brought tears to my eyes. Your honest and beautiful writing will help see you through.

  3. Lindsey, I have listened to a lot of records/tapes/cds over and over because they’re beautiful and I hear something different with every turn. In this post the image of the prayer flags “recommit[ing] to the same task, snapping around according to the wind’s whimsy” is especially poignant.
    Thank you for playing (and waving).

  4. I had a chance to go to Bhutan a few years ago — a nearly 100% Buddhist country — and we saw literally thousands of prayer flags. They seem to drape the entire country. Many of them were so tattered that they seemed to be holding on for dear life. When I asked our guide why they didn’t take down the old ones and replace them with new ones, he said prayer flags were never taken down. They were allowed to remain until they literally disintegrated. Only then would new ones be added.

  5. Hang in there, chica!
    When I was in Tibet a few years ago, I saw a plethora of prayer flags, most of which were even more tattered than those in the photo. In addition, they were frequently bundled up, or knotted, or haphazardly draped any which way. My point is, they weren’t treated with reverence and they didn’t always catch the wind but they were ALWAYS THERE – little reminders that hope and potential are constantly present even when they aren’t looking their best. (Horrid analogy, but I hope you get what I’m trying to say)

  6. It’s a weary beautiful journey, isn’t it?

    I’m so often bone-tired, sometimes I wonder if I’m dying (that was dramatic, but…true.)

    So much of it is the way we live, setting up the pins and knocking them down, as my favorite artist, Sara Groves, says. She also says there’s beauty to be found in setting up the pins and knocking them down. And I think what’s so inspiring about a person like you is that you see that beauty. No matter how tired, no matter how much of life and living it out hurts, you see it. So many don’t. Hold on to that, lady. You’ve got something very special in that heart of yours.

Comments are closed.