Flags for Prayers

Dear Saints,

While we are enjoying a glorious and much-awaited spring, I am also aware of the suffering that is occurring around our country and our planet. I am concerned about California’s unprecedented drought. I am deeply concerned the about the increasing gun violence in communities and schools and shockingly regressive riots as a result. I am highly disturbed about the growing instability within the Middle East and the ever-changing relationships with the US. I am shocked at the rapidly-spreading influence of ISIS, and I am also alarmed, as I learn how technology that is both helping teenagers learn, as well as carry out, inappropriate behaviors.

Henri Nouwen, a prolific author once wrote “When God looks at the world…God must weep”

Adding, now to our list of grief is the devastation in Nepal after an enormous earthquake — leaving (at this writing) over 5,000 people lost. At least we can take some heart that we are donors to “One Great Hour of Sharing” (again this year $3500 strong!) which funds Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Here’s what the PC(USA) website posted the day after the quake:

“Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s (PDA) local partners through ACT Alliance have been working in Nepal for several years and are on the ground assisting many who have survived the quake by distributing immediate life-saving supplies such as water, food, shelter and medication.”


Crises and disasters ‘hit us’ all differently depending on our familiarity, locale, and personal connection. We may have family of friends who live where the trouble occurred. We may have traveled there, studied it, know someone who is a native, or just been intrigued by a culture so different than our own.

For me, Nepal and the Nepalese culture has always been a place and a culture I am drawn to. I am intrigued by the work of the Sherpa’s and their spiritual and physical strength. I am drawn to the Dalia Lama’s wisdom and the monastic life of Tibetan Monks.

Weirdly, just a few weeks ago, I received a mailing from the “Campaign for Tibet”. I don’t know how I got on the mailing list and I almost tossed it, but since I have a heart for this culture I opened and read the enclosures. There was a plea letter asking to support religious and cultural freedom of the Tibetans and a ‘personal’ letter from the Dalai Lama. There was also…a gift for me to keep.

No doubt many of you have received these types of pleas. Often the ‘gift’ is a sheet of return address labels, a sticker for your car or a pen. Not this letter. This gift was unique, and something I have been curious about, for a really long time. I’ve seen (it) them often in films or in photos and even in person.

They were the Tibetan prayer flags. I now understand that they are tangible prayers reminders of what Tibet desires for themselves and the world; peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. They are visible reminders of what God desires for us, ALL OF US.

We may not have ‘prayer flags’ but we have a chance every moment of the day to pray. When you water your garden, pray for California. When you watch a violent TV show, turn it off and pray for our schools and our communities. When you see your child replace relationships with technology, have a family dinner. When you start to malign others, don’t be part of the problem…be part of the prayer.

I think if we flew flags for the world to see, they would say “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Is 2:4)AND…

“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together… and a little child shall lead them. (Is 11:6)

Praying with you for God’s world,