Mandala making

 

One autumn afternoon, I was outside with my children simply enjoying our time together. I was at ease. The sun was shining, she was picking me flowers, and he was crawling around in the newly fallen leaves. It was beautiful–the kind of beautiful I always dreamed motherhood would be. There was no whining. There was no crying. Instead there were smiles, giggles, and glee. Yes, glee. That’s the word to describe how we all felt. And that’s the day I started doing something new. I channeled that happy energy into making a simple nature mandala with the flowers my daughter had just picked for me. I didn’t even think. I just did it. And it felt so good. My daughter was fascinated and engaged. She loved that I appreciated her gifts so much, and was intrigued by what I was doing with them. I felt relaxed and inspired at the same time, admiring each flower as I found a place for it. I snapped a quick phone photo for fun and then let go. It was her turn. She immediately picked up the flowers and started pulling them apart. My carefully curated collection became a pile of petals in no time. The interesting thing is, I didn’t get upset about it. What mattered wasn’t the finished product; it was the act of creating. And that’s what she was doing: making a nature “WAND-ala,” as she called it.

 

A couple weeks later, we made a collaborative mandala with milkweed pods, acorns, and a pile of petals that she told me was fairy dust. Then a few days after that, I made another one with leaves and grasses I had collected while my son was sleeping in the stroller. Since then, mandala making has become a practice I genuinely look forward to. It doesn’t happen every day, by any means. There’s no predicting or planning it, but when the time presents itself and the spirit moves me, I enjoy it to the fullest. It’s so soothing to focus on the tiniest bits of beauty before me. No piles of laundry or stacks of dishes. Just pretty petals and pods.

 

Yesterday, the weather took an awful turn. It was dark, rainy, and downright chilling. I went for a quick walk and gathered some goodies from the garden. I picked blossoms and found fallen leaves. I even pinched a few pea pods for my daughter. It was too cold to stay outside, so I came in and laid everything out on the kitchen counter. As my son was napping and my daughter was engrossed in her kid’s yoga, I started arranging. I began with the lone white zinnia I had found, adding some pea blossoms here, lavender leaves there, unknown seed pods, and even a few freshly shelled peas. Then my daughter asked if she could make her own nature “WAND-ala.” I said yes, knowing that would mean the destruction of what I had just made. That’s the beauty of this practice, though. It isn’t about the finished product. It’s about the process of creating, appreciating, and then letting go. It’s a form of meditation for me and a source of delight for her. First she ate the peas and then proceeded to shred everything else, adding some extra leaf bits for good measure. She gathered it all into a heap and proudly showed me her creation. “Look Mommy, do you like my nature WAND-ala? It’s a fairy queen. Aren’t her eyes gorgeous?” she asked. I stroked her head, telling her how lovely and magical her fairy queen was. Her own eyes lit up and my heart expanded. The weight of past tantrums and time-outs lifted, and I felt lucky to recognize the joy that lies in the making of moments like these.

 

From me to you, here and now…
Jennifer