temporarily beautiful

At children’s camp,
as part of our worship one night,
the children made prayer flags.
In the Buddhist tradition
(geographically, I associate them with Tibet),
prayers are written on scraps of fabric
that are attached to tents and temples—
prayers cast to the winds,
winds carrying the prayers to heaven—
whipping the flags
until they disintegrate.

The children were given paper in worship,
and some time to reflect on how God was apparent to them—
more time to reflect during a quiet time after worship—
more time back at the cabin.
They finished them,
and then handed them to us.

They were good.
They were really good.
They did not blow this assignment off.
Their prayers were meaningful,
beautiful, colorful, insightful, touching.

I wish I could describe them to you—
wish I had them to give to you—
wish I had taken pictures—
wish I had clearer memories,
but I don’t.
I looked at them—
was impressed
(so impressed)—
admired them—
passed them on.

As part of the next evening’s worship,
the children pinned their flags
to string hung in arcs along the walls of the worship center.
I imagined our children’s flags
hanging in the midst of hundreds of them.
I imagined other children’s flags—
as meaningful, as beautiful and colorful,
as insightful and touching as ours—
as admired by their adults—
all now strung amidst the hundreds.

I contemplated them hanging—
not knowing what would happen to those prayer flags.
My guess was they’d be recycled.
And I was sad.

It’s a good lesson though.
And prayer flags,
like henna body art,
sand paintings,
chalk art—
and the years of a life—
all point to the beauty
of the temporal
and the temporary—
to the value of sharing
what is beautiful and meaningful
colorful, insightful and touching—
and letting go of the urge to hang on.


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