Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Boston with love

My recent sojourn to Boston is over, but while I was there, my husband and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) to see an exhibit of prayer flags sewn by people all over the world and sent to Boston to provide hope after the Boston Marathon bombings in April. The exhibit, called "To Boston With Love", is on view through July 7.

Prayer flags come from Buddhist tradition. Special practitioners paint prayers onto the flags, which are then strung together and left outside to flutter in the breeze and send the prayers heavenward. The idea to send healing prayers to Boston in the wake of the explosions came from Berene Campbell of Vancouver, Canada, who worked with Amy Friend of West Newbury, Massachusetts to bring it to fruition extremely quickly. The project was publicized and organized by the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild whose web site provided directions and ideas for making prayer flags and whose members took on the responsibility of gathering flags from around the world and getting them to Boston in time for Memorial Day

I first heard of the project through Faye C. on Stichin' Fingers, a social networking site for embroiderers. Believe it or not, she lives in Australia! It was strange, but gratifying to hear of something going on in my own backyard from someone all the way around the world. She made some lovely prayer flags to hang at her home, and posted the project web site so that people could participate. Unfortunately, I heard about the project too late to contribute my own flag.


My husband and I didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the MFA, but we were quickly steered toward the Shapiro Family Courtyard. The courtyard was enclosed when a new museum wing was added. It is light and airy and surrounded by views of natural greenery. Strung across the expanse were approximately sixteen hundred brightly colored flags, each 6" x 8" and tied together by knotted binding. It was as if the world were holding hands above our heads.

The most popular motif was hearts--so many hearts in so many forms bringing so much love to the city. But there were also birds and rainbows and motifs from the stitchers' home countries. I even found a string of flags from Colorado. The exhibit materials said that there were flags from Canada, Brazil, France, Australia, South Africa, and Japan in addition to all 50 states.


This is my favorite flag--an embroidered outline of the city skyline showing Boston landmarks old and new--such as the Longfellow and Zakim bridges, the Hancock tower and our beloved Citgo sign which marks the last mile before the finish line of the Boston Marathon and where many people were stopped, unable to finish the race.


I also liked this flag. "See Jane Run." That's just what people did--organizing a "last mile" run a few weeks after the bombing so that the people who were turned back were able to finish the race.


It was nice to see so many people looking up at the flags, taking pictures and finding a way to process this tragedy. The courtyard rise three stories tall and although we were indoors, with the light and airiness of the room, you could almost see those prayers flying out to comfort the city.


Thank you to everyone who contributed to this wonderful exhibit. I wasn't in Boston for the marathon this year, but I had friends caught up in the craziness of the man hunt in Watertown and felt the fear, hurt and betrayal keenly. This exhibit is a reminder of all the good in the world and it will help our city heal. Thank you.




  1. Margo that was brilliant ,thank you for posting it

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post, Margo! I'm the president of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild and I was involved with some of the behind the scenes work to make this project come together. The generous contributions from quilters around the world blew us away! It's wonderful to see the exhibit through your eyes as I won't get a chance to see it. I've shared your post on the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild facebook page.

    1. Thank you Holly! I split my time between Boston and Denver so I feel lucky I was able to be home to see the exhibit. It was breathtaking. I've had several friends who have gone to see the exhibit too. It must have been crazy to put this together so quickly, but it really was a comfor

  3. Thanks Margo for all you posted I enjoyed reading this. It is so nice to know of the good in the world and this thank you is a great reminder. Again thanks for sharing Elaine

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