At times when I feel grief spill over me, for missing Mom, I take out her prayer mandala and spend time building upon the piece and praying, both. One of those times came upon me this past weekend. As recommended by my spiritual director and dear friend, I’ve connected my creative side and my spiritual side through this form of prayer. I know that mandalas are used in countless religious traditions and these are as varied and as unique as the people who create them. As a practicing Catholic, I have used art for the past many years, as a way of drawing closer to God. While I am painting or creating, I don’t feel as though I’m sitting outside, on God’s doorstep…I feel as though I’m spending time, sharing his kitchen…no rushing about…no distractions…quiet and restful.
The process of creating a prayer mandala, one that is not intended for art, but for the focus and spiritual aspects of the prayer, may take much time. As an example, the initial four concentric circles took somewhere between four and six weeks to complete, beginning in early September. I think that more typical of a mandala, is a pattern that segments itself around a central point, where as my mandala has become a series of almost concentric circles. I wanted my mother at the prayer’s center.
Many years ago, at a silent auction, intended to raise funds for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, I bid on and won a mandala created by Tamarah Alister Rose Antares. She creates exceptional works and is a beautiful woman. I took a photograph this morning, out on my back deck, of Tamara’s mandala that hangs in my bedroom.
The process of praying my particular mandala, incorporates many of the memories I have of sharing times with Mom…but also, a bit of a journey through her life as little girl, growing woman and mother. I am comforted through this process and while it is a deeply personal journey of prayer that I can’t share here, I think it’s alright to share that this can be a very healing possibility that might benefit readers going through similar loss. If you’ve created a mandala, I would like to hear about it.
I think it is important for the artist or spiritual being to not see or set limits to the experience of prayer. I think that God opens up the heart and the mind…we are simply needing to be open to that.
I think this is a particularly wonderful exploration of a mandala by the Dalai Lama.