There has been an abundance of spiders in the area where I live this Fall, and I love to observe their webs popping up all over, as long as they aren’t over my kitchen sink (which has happened and then they have to go). They work so hard weaving their delicate, deadly baskets. They catch a few flies, dismantle the web, and start all over again.
This photo made me think about the web of my own life. Weaving a thing of beauty, catching something or someone in it, enjoying it all for a while, experiencing disintegration, and then repeating the process again and again. After so many years of trying, of creating, of exploring, I wonder if I am learning anything after all. Are my patterns any different than they were thirty years ago? Has the web changed at all?
I am laughing at myself as I write this, knowing that this true and not true all at the same time. Still laughing. Knowing that I am both the spider and the fly.
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.
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.
I look forward to winter for many reasons. And one of the main things I look forward to is the opportunity to have everything stop for a while. And even though I recognize that this is a total illusion, I pretend anyway. Winter seems to give me more time to still my busy mind, to spend lovely days at home, listening to the rain and the wind, letting the beautiful gray tones of the Northwest sky wash over me. In this stillness, I feel that my creativity and my spirituality are being renewed. And in anticipation of this special time, I decided to make a Stillness mandala as my next project. To commemorate the coming around of this wonderful time of year.
But something is going terribly wrong this year. True we had a little snow two weeks ago. But where are the wonderful winter rain storms? Where is the intensity, the opportunity for cleansing, the chance to stay at home, and to snuggle up inside and be warm. To read books, to make soup, to work on mandalas.
Aside from the huge implications for Global Climate Change, how can I be still when the sun is shining? How can I pretend that things will stop long enough for me to have my winter experience when I go outside my door and see things like the photo I took this morning. On February 2nd, no less.