Eclose Me!

A hot afternoon. Later, we will be going to see fireworks on Lake Morey for the Fourth of July. But for now: prayer flags.

Both strands need to be replaced. The huge lower flags have been down since winter when their string snapped at both ends and they dropped and tangled among branches below into the sail configuration I got so much pleasure from photographing over several months.

When I have strung new large flags among the lower branches, I move on to the smaller flags up at my high place on the other trunk.

The slender branch to which one end of the old strand was tied snapped several weeks ago, and the flags themselves are faded and tattered. I replace it with a longer strand that spans a wider stretch among the branches. It feels good to have new prayer flags up, fresh and clean and brightly colored. Like cleaning house in spring.

New prayer flags are stiff and slightly crumpled when you first put them up. They are creased from being folded, there are hard lines in the fabric when the light shines through. It takes several days of wind and gravity and rain showers before they drape straight down in an uncreased sheet.

I always think of butterfly wings when I first put the flags into place, wings crumpled and creased and folded as the creature sits shivering on a milkweed leaf in the meadow, its chrysalis dangling split and dulled beneath it. Brilliantly colored structures that smooth and stretch as the insect pumps them rapidly, forcing fluids into them. My prayer flags will need a day or two of this, of being pumped full and smooth by the wind coming up the hill.

Eclosure, it is called, this emergence of the butterfly from its chrysalis. I have performed the task for the prayer flags, helping them eclose from their cellophane packages, hanging their wings to pump smooth in the wind. But it is not too great a stretch to say that I am asking this favor of them as well. To say that my hope is that they will help me to eclose from the chrysalis of my ordinary self. From the confining shell of habit, the hardened enclosure of routine. Into a fresh way of seeing, a more thoughtful relation to my days. A new tree, a new meadow, a new world. My own tiny metamorphosis, however subtle, every day. I ask this of the prayer flags and the tree and the wind and the sun and the sky.

Eclose me, world!