the newest mandala

It seemed like a good idea.  I decided to do a mandala about Grace several months ago.  I took a few notes and did a few doodles, and then put it aside.  My thoughts about grace were all over the place, but that only made me realize how much I needed to work on it.

This quote from Anne Lamott kind of sums it up, “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

It is such a tricky and elusive word.  And working with it began to reflect my longing to pin things down, to understand the whys and hows and whats of my own life.  I want physical grace as well as grace on a spiritual level.  I want that ever popular state of grace.  I want it to permeate my thoughts and actions on all levels.  I want to live with grace and age with grace.

Yet my personal journey while working on it was not particularly easy, almost as if I were being shown how much work there is to do.  I’m not exactly sure what I learned, but I know that it made me think and look and feel a lot.

And that’s enough for now.



I had to laugh when I read Anita‘s eloquent blog on Tuesday because for the past week I have been immersed in working on a Grace mandala. She captured the concept so well, while it has been quite the struggle for me to grapple with the word and all its meanings.  Mine has been in the works for several months. I had made some sketches and had written down some of my feelings about Grace. But of course, once I started to draw it, everything changed.

And there is Grace in that for sure.

So many opportunities have arisen in the last few days to challenge my ideas about it.  I have to laugh about that as well.  It seems to be the pattern.  Once I make a decision to tackle a particular word, the lessons show up all over the place.

I will be finished with it soon, and will share it here along with more of the story about making it.  I wanted to use just a small detail of it for now, but the lighting was bad, and it is late, and it all felt just a bit beyond my technical capabilities.  So for now, these are the markers and the palette that I’m using.

Black-Eyed Peas and Grace

I can’t remember exactly when my friend Vivian turned me on to this old Southern tradition, but it was probably about 30 years ago.  On New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas and greens.  It’s supposed to bring good luck.  Since then, I’ve heard about the ritual from many different sources.  But I always attribute it to Vivian who had lived in the South and had tons of Southern relatives.

Over the years, my recipes have varied.  Any number of greens can be used.  The peas have the ability to create their own aromatic broth, to which I can add fresh herbs or make spicy.   Some years the addition of garlic has dominated.  Or carrots have been added.  Or rice has made the soup into a stew.  But it is always delicious and always served on the first day of the new year.

According to Vivian, one must also always have corn bread to accompany the black-eyed peas, and I have diligently followed this advice as well.  And the results….  Well, my life isn’t perfect, but I am blessed with health (knock wood), wonderful friends and relationships, a small but solid family.  I live on an island for heaven’s sake, and love my work.

I would say offhand that those black-eyed peas are working just fine!

But this year eating them on New Year’s Day was not meant to be.  For one thing, I had run out of them.  And even more significantly, we were off to Seattle for a family gathering on New Year’s Day.  I admit that I was a bit stricken when it hit me.  Would the sky fall in?  Would my life begin to fall apart and unravel?  How would the Universe punish me?

Well, in my world the Universe is pretty soft and gentle.  Forgiving and flexible, understanding, compassionate and wise.  So I tuned in and the message came through loud and clear.

I had been given a Grace Period!  By the Universe no less!

So on Monday, January 3rd, we stopped at the Coop on the way home and got the black-eyed peas and organic collard greens.  I cooked them and we ate them and they were delicious, as always.  Maybe they even tasted a little sweeter this year because I ate them two whole days late and savored the grace in that.

I breathed that in, connected to my good fortune, and felt so grateful for it.  And I wonder why it all can’t be just that easy.

What does all this add up to?  I’ve decided to continue the work of the Universe and to give myself another longer Grace Period.  One that will last forever.  Well I’m going to try it out, at least.  At least, just for today….