For the past week my 3 class VIII sections have been studying an essay called “Prayer flags blowing in the wind” which I thought combined perfectly with the song lyrics of “Blowin’ in the wind” by Bob Dylan which just happened to be included as a poem in the same unit.
From the moment I saw the titles I knew I would want to fly prayer flags with them once we had done the hard yards.
I had the flags on standby and bit the bullet and asked permission from my principal for this venture at the beginning of the week. I already knew that they would require blessing by a lama and an auspicious day would have to be selected. That was exactly what transpired and as we discussed the project a Dzongkha Lopen was summoned and given the task of getting the blessing and the date.
I knew it would be a hit with the students and was really looking forward to it. Their spirits were not in the slightest bit dampened by the drizzling rain and they were quick to point out that rain is in fact a lucky omen.
Having explained to them that the Prayer Wheel area on campus would be my choice of location, I allowed them to select exactly where they would fly their class set and it was easily resolved.
One string from the cypress trees along the nearby boundary fence and 2 from the Physics Lab balcony on the opposite side were our possible choices and each class seemed happy with their placement.
Knowing full well that it wouldn’t be acceptable to send off a delegation to accomplish the job, I assigned groups various essential roles: tying them together, stringing them up, adding the string to affix them, preparing and burning the ritual cypress leaves for purification smoke and lighting incense.
We had a matches-in-charge and string distributer as well as scissors dispenser and all others were asked to keep the prayer wheel turning!
All jobs were assigned in the classroom and greeted with choruses of “Madam, madam, madam” and eager volunteers’ hands in the air.
I left them to it and took to taking photos, which inevitably resulted in “One photo Madam,” requests.
The campus was awash with mud and the rain continued to fall but there was nothing but joy and laughter during the entire process.
More than once I was struck by the thought that this would be impossible in Australia. (Occupational Health and Safety monitors would have a heart attack! There were moments when I thought I might too)
I was somewhat afraid of disaster and continually counseling caution much to the amusement of the students. Most notably when my own home class by sheer timetabling managed to get first pick of locations and boys took to shinnying up the slippery bark of the cypress trees to the very top.
I was imagining having to explain how they fell to devastated parents but all ended uneventfully and we lived to tell the tale.
With all 3 groups their co-operative endeavors and the surety and confidence with which they conducted themselves was impressive.
What a lovely way to spend a rainy Friday morning.
No-one was at all concerned about how wet they got and we will all have the pleasure of watching our prayer flags send their prayers to the heavens for the rest of the year.