What is a prayer?

“Whale Songs” – Prayer Flags by Logan Austeja Daniel
Taken from spectrograms of Orca and Pilot Whale songs

A bit over a month ago one of our supporters offered to sponsor a fundraising event for OCR, which became “Artists Prayer Flags – Offerings for the Ocean.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sounded fun and gave us a chance to meet and work with some new and long-standing friends.
What I didn’t anticipate was how well this idea resonated with so many people, and how fast it blossomed into a beautiful, soulful event.
Prayer flags come from a Tibetan tradition; made of fabric painted with poems, prayers, and religious symbols. They are hung in the wind to send their blessings out into the world. Versions of them now are made world-wide by people wishing to express prayerful sentiments and to acknowledge special events.

With only a few weeks to prepare, some 70 artists – from school children to professional fine artists created and delivered some 100 sets of prayer flags, which we hung in a country feed barn in the Northern California town of  Point Reyes Station.

In our largely-secular society, many of us grew up with the idea that prayers are supplications expressing humility to a “Higher Power,” or petitions to that Higher Power to get stuff done. In the worst-case scenario, a soft-pedaled “thoughts and prayers” are offered as an admission of our helplessness to do anything ourselves.
But these Prayer Flags are “Prayers and Action” – making something beautiful to express our common sentiments. In this case, expressing our common love and appreciation for the Ocean.
Over the week that these flags were on display, many hundreds of people got to take in their beauty and have their attentions directed to the myriad of ways that artists consider their relationship with the sea. As the event was a fundraiser for OCR, many of these people were also introduced to the idea that the ocean is becoming a noisy place, and they got to consider the significance of this fact in our own ocean relationships.
In the end we auctioned off most of the flags – letting people take these home with them to release the prayers into their own homes, gardens, and neighborhoods.
This to me seems like a most meaningful expression of a sacred prayer.
With the deepest gratitude I wish you all a sacred, and prayerful Thanksgiving!