These are the leaves of the handkerchief tree.
I had always wondered at the name, but on Sunday as I looked at it the leaves all seemed like prayer flags.
I was thinking of all the people who have lost their lives this year, and of their families and friends. People who have died tragically, in violence, and some by their own hands. Not just at Sandy Hook, though this was what made me stop and stand there in silence, holding them in my heart.
A month ago I collected these leaves from where they had fallen. I dried them and kept them in a box, thinking I would string them into garlands for decorations at Christmas. Now, when I do this next weekend, I will think of them once again as prayer flags. As I hang them, and every time I see them, I will remember.