On Sunday, parishioners followed the lead of Sarah Haskell – a mandala expert from New Hampshire – in learning about mandalas and then assembling a mandala of our own!
Why make a mandala here at St. Michael’s Parish? Mandala means “circle” in the Sanskrit language, and mandala art follows a circular design. Cultures around the world and throughout time have used the mandala as a vehicle for self-expression and spiritual transformation: Tibetan Buddhists have employed the mandala shape for thousands of years to illustrate their deities, and Navajo sand painters use them in their healing rites.
The well-known American Indian “Dream Catcher” is a form of mandala, and many native people use the “Medicine Wheel”, a mandala form, to connect to earth energies, spiritual strength, and the wisdom of nature.
The shape of the circle lends an experience of wholeness. The center of the circle radiates a symmetrical design, suggesting there is a center within each of us to which everything is related, by which everything is ordered, and which is the source of our energy and power.
Virtually every spiritual and religious system asserts the reality of such an inner center, yet the mandala represents far more than that. Surrounding that core are the interconnections of the community, the relationship of one person to another, the symbols of joy or sadness, of excitement and love, of deep creativity and compassion. It is the relationship of our core inner experience to these forces around us that creates our most authentic self. The mandala is the symbolic representation of this synergy.
As we continue to confront the suffering and trouble of a broken world, we remind ourselves of the importance that community, and community support and strength, all bring to our journey through it, and towards God’s Kingdom. The mandala – and St Michael’s Mandala – is a small but powerful reminder and symbol of that community strength, and a witness to God’s love through relationship.