I’ve been meditating how to respond to the horrific kidnappings in Nigeria for months now. There don’t seem to be any easy answers for how to bring back our girls – whether foreign intervention is helping or will help or will not help (though certainly the leadership of the Nigerian government was not helping), whether the hashtag campaigns so embraced by those of us outside of Nigeria are helping or hurting the situation. Like many others, I’ve done all the the things that I can do from afar (spreading awareness on social media, contacting governmental representatives, signing petitions) and still in this situation I’m left, as so many others, with the reality of my own helplessness to effect any pragmatic change in the outcome of this travesty of justice. Like so many others around the world I worry for these girls. I worry for their parents. I imagine how I would feel if my own daughter were missing. I don’t know the words to convey that type of insane-making anguish.
Ten years ago this July, my spouse and I were traveling around Thailand on our honeymoon visiting Buddhist temples, experiencing the beautiful traditions, culture and rituals of the people there. Thailand has also been on my mind lately, based on the news of the recent troubling events that have been going on there. One image from so many years ago that has always stayed with me, was of hundreds of little bells tied to the rafters and eaves of many of the temples. Each bell signified a blessing for a loved one, and it was believed that when the wind blew the bells and you heard them tinkle, chime, or clang, the wind also carried that particular blessing out into the universe, blessing not only the individual but the greater swathe of creation. These bells of blessing are similar to prayer wheels or incense in this way – a movement of wind, sound, or smoke to send particular blessing out to touch the generality that is also reality – to realize the connections and interwoven strands between the micro and the macro – between little me, you and the whole of creation.
I believe there is a sort of power in corporate meditation/prayer. I believe this because of those mystic interwoven strands of life that I know there is an explanation for, but that I don’t yet know how to explain. I also believe that when many individuals raise their corporate voice to cry out for justice, sometimes it can move an evil, hardened heart – whether through the quaking of fear or love – to do the right thing and restore what has been stolen. So that mending can begin.
This visual prayer and meditation, inspired by prayer wheels and tinkling bells, came to me recently while I spent some time by the sea. Again, I grieve that it’s not more pragmatic, but it is a prayer made into something tangible (in this case a prayer made into a biodegradable art piece) and released to the wind and sea and sun and stars. May this prayer and the many millions more around the world for the young women of Chibok become a tangible reality.