The idea of creating a mandala for each of the four seasons came to me last January, at a time when I had been feeling pretty sure that I was finished making them. And then, the concept just popped into my head, complete with subtitles for each of them, so I felt that I had to go through with the project. Each one was worked on and completed within its own season. Much to my surprise, it turned into a labor of love, and has been an amazing and healing way of learning about myself and how I feel, as each of the seasons revealed their sweetness to me and yielded its position to the next in line. Four circles (cycles) sitting inside the larger cycle (circle) of one year. Perfect for a person like me who loves looking at almost everything in terms of circles and time passing.
Winter (Stillness) was about finding the quiet place inside myself, wrapping myself in a cocoon of silence, of safety, of protection. Finding imagery to echo Stillness was quite a challenge. But the most important lesson was to discover how much movement there could be within the Stillness of the winter months, how much opportunity for growth and change. How bright it all really was.
Spring (Tolerance) held a kernel of an idea that somehow everything and everyone could work together toward growth and cooperation, toward the promise of blossoming. But in reality, nature is messy and free and wild. There is an unruly aspect to Tolerance. Things are popping up all over the place, yet they all seem to know when and where to grow. My lesson was strong and clear. Get out of the way and let it happen.
Summer (Trust) became a way of finding renewed strength and confidence. I always love summer, since I was born at the end of July and feel my happiest during the heady part of summer that Leo rules. This year, I learned to Trust my body more and to be more grateful for it. In return, it allowed me to garden and to be creative and to keep learning about life and love, about getting and giving support.
Fall (Vulnerability) took me totally by surprise. Originally, its subtitle was Surrender, but I realized that Vulnerability was more appropriate for what I was feeling. It was supposed to have a leaf in the center, but that changed to a Falling Figure (a motif I painted many years ago). I tried to turn it back into a leaf, but the figure demanded to be seen. It is about everything being revealed in the Fall. As the leaves fall, we see and are seen. Both make us more Vulnerable. I mourn for what I have lost. I rejoice for what I have gained. It is a bittersweet time. And what I have learned is that being Vulnerable is okay. Maybe not always fun, but always okay.
I finished the Summer Mandala just a few days ago, and it signals the end of many summer tasks. I am not quite ready for it to be September. I’m never really ready for September, but this year it seems especially difficult. I want the sunny bright colors of the mandala to last longer. I want the flowers to stay around. I want the garden to keep growing.
I do love Summer! And I am working on Trust in so many areas of my life right now. Learning to trust that the strength and sense of flow that summer brings me can last into the Fall, even when it is rainy and gray.
I’ve completed three of the seasons. One more mandala to go in my version of the four seasons.
Each of these small wooden circles measures only one and a half inches in diameter. Yet in each one, there is a lot going on. Some definitely are more simple than others. They just came together with ease, and felt finished. Others are more worked, and that is because they didn’t flow as well initially. A color may have been wrong. Or my hand slipped as I applied the enamel paint, so that a cover up became essential. Some of those become my favorites because they have more history. Enamel paint is fun to work with because it dries very quickly and is opaque, making layering possible.
Each one has a magnet attached to the back, so they are useful items to have.
I love making them for several reasons. It is fun to work with a water-based paint instead of oil. It is really fun and challenging to work that small. It takes concentration to do them. I need to keep breathing as I work or something inevitably goes wrong. I get a lot of information from doing so many of them at once. It is liberating to think of them as functional. Getting an energetic brushstroke with a tiny little brush is not easy for me. And doing them gives me a lot of information for doing my other paintings. Frees the hand, informs the eye, engages the brain.
In January, I came up with the idea of doing a new mandala for each season of the year. I finished the one for Winter on the day before the Spring Equinox. This one is ready well in advance of summer. Good for me!
The sub-theme for Spring is Tolerance. And here is why. Do all the flowers get stressed when they start coming up at the same time in Spring? Do they fight with each other for space, or crowd each other out, or deny each other light and water? No, they somehow make it work. And even when the weeds start to take over, they all still tolerate each other. They all know what to do. My personal lesson in all this is to be more tolerant of those who don’t act with kindness, or who don’t care about the good of the planet, or don’t have a particularly humanitarian philosophy. I recognize that we are still all connected whether I want to admit it or not.
But perhaps my greatest challenge in the Tolerance department is for those nearest and dearest to me. It is so easy to get annoyed or to need and demand perfection from them. I want to feel like the two ribbons of blue in the mandala, entwined yet flowing in different ways and in a different rhythm. I want to be working toward the sun and putting more and more consciousness into the tangle of green. Coming through in the orange and pink flowers. It’s all growing in its own way and in its own time. And oh my, I want to be more tolerant of myself as well. That dark spot almost in the center of the mandala. The remnant of darkness from the Winter months. The remainder of mistrust and doubt in my soul.
This is the third Spring that we have lived in this house, the third Spring that I have seen the clematis in bloom, and the third Spring that I am getting to watch it engulf more and more of the house. There is something so spectacular about this expanse of pink spreading out over the porch on the main floor and spreading up to the small deck that is off our second floor bedroom. It almost takes my breath away. And each year I eagerly wait for it because for me, it signifies the true beginning of the abundance of green and color that is yet to come. I means that it’s time to wake up!
As time goes by, I am getting more and more in rhythm with this property that we are renting. I know what to expect now that the daffodils and tulips are gone. The lilacs are already in bloom. The heather kept blooming throughout the winter. Soon there will be irises, another happy moment. It is the rhythm of Spring and the awakening of my body and my brain. I await the lilies and the peonies and the hollyhocks as the prospect of summer entices me on these lovely sunny days.
I create in the early evening while it is still light out, and my back tells me that I’ve done enough gardening for the day. Then I can be in my studio and allow the experiences of the day to inform what I paint or what I weave or what I draw or what I read. All one.
Still a bit cool, especially at night. I move in that rhythm as well. The cool evenings invite soup or stews or casseroles, and some red wine. I allow myself to rest and am delighted that I can sleep with a down comforter on these cool nights.
The mornings are for greeting the day and the clematis!!