Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Prayer for Sendai

My Hearts and Hands for Sendai quilt block is finished -- ready to head off on its journey and become part of a larger quilt to benefit Sendai, Japan.


You'll have to forgive me now because I'm going to get a little deep. It happens sometimes when I've spent many hours with a project that comes from my heart. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I believe that embroidery is a spiritual exercise.

I believe that great love and energy has been generated by every person who picked up a needle and made a block for one of these quilts.

I believe in the power of your energy as you read this blog post and bear witness to its message.


I believe that all that power...the power of all those communal stitches and thoughts...has, indeed, already helped someone in some way.

I never underestimate the power of human connection...the power of us. And the power of our hearts and hands to help Japan.


I had the good fortune of living in Japan for close to three years in the early '90s and feel a strong connection to the land and the people. I enjoyed all of the many festivals that occurred in my local village and tried to participate in as many as I could. But one of my absolute favorites was the ceremony of Toro Nagashi at the end of O-bon.

O-bon is a festival that honors the spirits of deceased ancestors. O-bon occurs in either July or August and lasts for three days. On the last day, there is a lantern lighting ceremony called Toro Nagashi where floating lanterns are lit and released into a river in order to guide the spirits of the departed to their afterlife.


I remember the mood being fairly somber as families wound their way through the streets down to the river bank...many of the young children dressed in kimono.

Just seeing all of those lit lanterns making their way downriver...


Well. It's quite a beautiful sight.

And you definitely feel a profound sense of honor and respect for those who have left this earth.


I knew I wanted to include those lit lanterns on my river in this quilt block -- to honor the thousands and thousands of lives that were lost.


And Mt. Fuji as Japan's most sacred mountain...and symbol of national pride...


And the moon reminding us of the passage of time. That Japan has existed for a very long time, through countless lunar cycles, through countless disasters, and will continue to persevere through countless more.

The bridge...connecting...


Connecting one state of existence with another. Connecting the losses of the past to hope for a brighter tomorrow. Connecting all those whose lives were lost to their afterlife.


And I tried to use Japanese textiles...kimono silks, sashiko quilting, and shibori...to remind us of the great strength and beauty and resourcefulness within Japan.

Made by my hand in the West, sending great love and hope to my friends in the East.


If you are interested in making a financial contribution as part of our fundraising/quilting effort, visit this post to see how you can donate.

I'm heading to New York city with Jack for the day tomorrow but when I come back on Tuesday, I'll try to put together a few Japanese fabric packs for sale...all proceeds to go to Sendai.

See you then.


Past Posts about this block:

45 comments:

Teresa said...

Your piece is just to beautiful for words. Thank you for taking us on the journey.
Teresa's Heartfelt Stitches

jeyanthi said...

A lovely work from your heart and hands. I especially loved the bridge, the troubled and then the calm waters.Thank you.

Robin said...

You are a great woman with a wonderful soul. Hugs.

Cathy K said...

Achingly beautiful and meaningful. Thank you! Hugs, Cathy

lifemyway said...

Quite honestly most great works are made from the heart and true sentiment, this being a fine example.

73mw said...

Tipping my hat to you - remarkable work, beautiful soul.

verobirdie said...

That is the very reason why we admire your work: you put some of your soul in it. And you put a lot in this particular one. I'm sure those who will see it will take strengh from it.

Rachel said...

It's a truly beautiful block, Susan, and thank you for such a thoughtful, and thought-provoking post.

BackstoryBeads said...

As I was viewing your beautiful post this morning, my son walked through the room. He pulled up a chair, amazed at the details in each frame. Led to a conversation about Joplin, Tuscaloosa, all the losses this year has seen. Your project and others like it that spread hope. Next week, he'll be moving away for his first job, teaching art in a new city. Thanks for a beautiful moment we'll both savor.

coral-seas said...

Susan, I am so moved by your block and by your words that the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck are tingling. I have a lump in my throat and my heart feels squeezed. Not with sadness but with anticipation of how this is going to be viewed and understood by the people of Japan.

I had not heard of the Toro Nagashi. It sounds magical! I did not know what saw floating on your river at first but when I read your description of the festival and realised that your were guiding the spirits of the departed to their afterlife, well, I just want to hug you for your understanding and compasion and your ability to express it. Your block is beautiful in appearance and profoundly beautiful for the love and energy that went into making it.

Vicki W said...

One of the highlights of my day is to visit your blog. I am so glad I found it so many months ago. All of your work is spectacular. It's clear that every design line, every, bead and every stitch is so well planned and your feelings come through so clearly. Thank you for sharing your work with us!

Gerry Krueger said...

It's inbelieveable you poured all that love and sentiment into a 6" block.... You need to mention the size... I love your respect for the power of the needle...

Hugs Ger

Wendy said...

Oh my word Susan! This block is absolutely gorgeous! But the thoughts, feelings and hope behind it are even more...
I have no words.
Your work is the most beautiful, most thought-out, most *felt* work i've ever seen.
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for YOU.
=-)

Lisa said...

It's an amazing block Susan! Lovely and meaningful and so beautiful!

Sandie said...

So special post.
The quilt speaks without words.
I am in awe of your work.

Hugs,
Sandie xx

Lisa T said...

Your work is physically and spiritually beautiful. I'm sure that it will provide consolation and hope to those who view it.

piney cq said...

Oh my!!! I am very touched by your work and your description! I will have to print this to go with the quilt it goes into. Just beautiful! Thank you Susan for sharing your "self" with this project! I can't wait to see it in person!

MosaicMagpie said...

Truly a beautiful example of love and compassion stitched here. You spoke of a human connection and I felt that too as I worked on my block for Sendai. Your thoughts could not be stopped from thinking of those whose lives were touched by that event. Again, just yesterday they were rocked by another earthquake, what feeling that must have brought back to each of them. What a wonderful project this was to participate in.
I am thankful to Leslie for all she did. Your block is the crowning touch, on a work of heart!
Deb

flower friend said...

Thank you Susan for telling the story behind your block, I'm sure it will be appreciated.Your blog is great inspiration and excellent food for thought.

Marty52 said...

How very beautiful, Susan. I just want to say how well you have portrayed the chaos of the tsunami in the foreground in contrast with the peace and serenity on the other side of that incredible bridge. Just wonderful.

Evelyn and Lise said...

This beautiful piece touches all our souls. Your art and your writings tell us how you take your work to the next level, not just putting fabric together but beyond that. You are an artist that works from the soul and spirit. Thank you Lise

Nydra said...

Susan.....powerful symbolism and beautiful workmanship....your piece touches the heart. I love the lamps floating on the water...brings tears to my eyes.

Carol said...

Thank You,
Much Love, Carol

Carol said...

This piece just blows me away. I had to ask Tanya, in Japan, to visit here in case she doesn't know you yet.

I absolutely cannot put into words what I feel about your addition of the lanterns to the block. A heart like yours lives on forever and gathers energy in each stitch made.
xx, Carol

Allison Ann Aller said...

To use an Indian word, as I don't know the Japanese one: Pranam to you, Susan.

Sheila said...

Susan, you have the most amazing gift when you sew about your love for people and places. You know how to embed exactly the right symbology to express an idea with just the right elements until they are layered, and layered with meaning. This is exquisitely beautiful, and no one can look at this and not come away unchanged. *hugs*

Balwearie said...

Truly gorgeous -- both the block and the maker!

Elmsley Rose said...

A very beautiful piece for a very beautiful cause. We are all lucky to have you in our lives :-)

Carol E. in AZ said...

Wow! I have never seen such a beautiful piece. I'm new to the world of quilting/embroidery, so the amount of time and love that has gone into this piece is priceless. It is stunning.

LindaSchiffer said...

Susan, I feel the same way you do about the work of our hands and the spiritual content we infuse into our work! I did so enjoy your post today - how very beautiful.

I hope to buy some of your fabric packets.

:) Linda

Cyn ;-) said...

You have a beautiful heart and it really shows in this post. Thank you for being brave and sharing your thoughts.
Love your block, too. It is so wonderful.

Pollydo2003 said...

Wonderful work, what a wonderful journey..... Arlene

Debra said...

Susan, as someone who reads your blog, but has never commented, I had to speak out about this piece of art. I had been waiting with anticipation to see the finished piece, and when I did, I just went "ahhhhh, perfect". The lanterns complete the story. I felt your execution of the bridge was brilliant. Embroidery was the first needleart I learned as a child, and I am in awe of the beauty and workmanship. This piece stands alone in impact, but when your words are added, it rises to something truly spiritual. One cannot look at this piece of art, and not be moved.
Thank you for sharing it with us on its journey to Japan.

Catherine said...

Simply amazing work Susan! Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us.

Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next!

emilyaliu66 said...

Wow...beyond words. What a lovely piece, each detail is more beautiful and heartfelt than the next. I have tears in my eyes...thank you for sharing.

Wendy said...

Wow, this is stunning!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this journey with us, Susan. Your "Prayer" is an
incredibly moving and powerful work of heart, soul, and hand.

Katherine

Liz Bugh, Gypsy Feather said...

Breathtakingly beautiful, Susan!
You have such a compassionate soul... thank you for sharing. ~Liz

Chris Daly said...

Oh Susan, The beauty of your block brought me to tears before I read your post. What a beautiful tribute.

santafebites said...

Glad I added you to my people I follow, thanks for sharing your heart and work.
Melissa

underatopazsky said...

Even words like beautiful, amazing, uplifting and awe-inspiring don't cut it. It's all of those and more. Thank you.

vicki said...

Susan- this is just an unbelievable accomplishment. I've never been so moved by a fabric creation. You have told an amazing story through your handwork. The colors are so beautiful and your textures are uniquely fabulous. I stand amazed and in awe of your creative masterpiece. I absolutely love it!!
Vicki

FredaB said...

I have never known anyone as good as you for transferring your thoughts and ideas with needle and threads to your fabric. It is achingly beautiful.

You certainly have done your country proud. I bet it will be very well received in Japan.

Hugs

FredaB

Wilma said...

What a stunning piece of work Susan,
my compliments! Hugs from Holland!

Bernapatch said...

Bravo pour votre créativité !

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