The Living Mandala

by Beth Almerini

Dried rose petals from a garden in New Jersey, pebbles from a stream

in Europe, shells from the shores of the Atlantic, fragrant herbs from a

garden in Virginia, dried beans from India, lentils from Israel, artwork, tiny treasures, sand, ribbons, paper, feathers, objects of beauty from all over the earth — the raw materials for an exquisite and unique piece of art made by an entire community.

Creativity overflowing so much that the art couldn’t be contained to the table prepared for it, but took over an entire room. Items were added and mixed, covered and uncovered, juxtaposed, moved so that it changed continuously — it was a different creation, even if you had seen it just a minute before.

The room holding this community offering became a sacred space, a place to pause and reflect, to connect in silence or soft conversation, a place where all were welcome to participate, where all offerings were held with love and tenderness.

The mandala was a precious gift to the community by the community and it’s difficult to imagine that anyone privileged to take part will ever forget it. At the end, the form was changed, scattered and wiped away, and the shattering of that vessel was as beautiful as its creation.