This June will mark the 7th year since the death that changed the trajectory of my life. I struggle with what to "do" on the "anniversary." The date always seems to loom just around the corner marking time. Nonetheless, it is significant. It's the day I changed. It's the day I was uprooted, and eventually replanted with the wisdom in my bones that death brings. It's how I got here, teaching yoga for grief support and being drawn to walk alongside others who have experienced a loss.
I decided a few years back that I wanted to go to the mountains each June, to reflect on my own experience of loss and growth, in a place where I can immerse myself in the vastness and wonder of it all. This year, at summer solstice, I'm going to hike "Vision Quest Ridge" in Nordegg, Alberta. A short, steep hike to panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and Abraham Lake. As per the name, this hike passes an old vision quest site, which drew me in. It seemed supportive and appropriate that we would be on ancient native land, where so many people before have been to seek spiritual guidance and purpose. You can see photos of it by clicking here.
I've heard from others who have done this hike that there are prayer flags tied in a tree to mark the site. That inspired me to take a prayer flag with me, to create ritual and ceremony around the intention of my hike. I've seen them for purchase at a variety of stores, but I hesitated to buy one for myself because I didn't understand the deeper meaning of the symbols and prayers inscribed upon them. Nevertheless, I love the image of prayer flags strung along high mountain ridges with the wind carrying the prayer across the land and to all beings. I knew that if I were to hang a prayer flag on this hike up Vision Quest Ridge, it would have to be a wish that arose from my heart about love and loss, life and death. So, I thought, "why not make my own?"
A quick google search revealed that, not only is it fairly easy, it's something (I think) I can do!
So I went to a fabric store and I bought small scraps of fabric - which is actually quite cheap. You can "fill a bag" with scrap material for $8.00. I chose any piece that "spoke" to me - both in colour and in texture. I also bought a small sewing kit, some fabric adhesive, and even some embellishments like patches, and buttons. The grand total for my prayer flag project kit = $25.00.
My next step is to be quiet and still and listen to what arises. What prayer do I want to share? What do I want to be carried to the top of a mountain by me, and then carried across the lands by the wind?
I'll update this blog on my progress and will also submit my final flag to The Prayer Flag Project; which is "a collective project spreading peace, goodwill and kindness, one flag at a time." This project was created in 2011 by Vivika Hansen DeNegre. She invites people from around the world to create their own flags and hang them outside, to have the sentiments carried by the wind to all the wind touches. She then posts photos of each flag on her blog. A virtual sharing of the prayer, I suppose. It's beautiful.
Stay tuned...I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Until next time....when the sewing begins...
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