What is a mandala?
Mandala means “sacred circle” in Sanskrit. Circles appear in nature (flowers, snowflakes, sun, moon, etc.), architecture and are also powerful symbols in cultures throughout world history. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas are used to facilitate meditation and are used in sacred rites as a transformative tool to assist with healing.
Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Native American Indians all use mandalas as a way of evoking spiritual energy, meditation and healing. Psychologist Carl Jung used mandalas with his clients and for his own personal growth. His studies revealed their creation allowed a deep healing to take place from within the human psyche.
Why are circles believed to be so powerful?
•The circle is a symbol of wholeness, continuity, connection, unity, harmony and the cycle of life.
•Unlike other shapes, the circle flows and has no hard edges or angles.
•Circles are believed to help individuals focus inward.
If you choose to color a mandala it will tap into your creativity without any need for artistic expertise. The process of coloring can sooth and nourish you. Coloring mandalas is a great way to start using mandalas in your everyday life.
Mark 12: 28-34The First Commandment
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
What if we stopped looking at the virtues of this text as destinations and looked at them as a journey. Are you on the journey of loving neighbor? Are you on the journey of relationship with God through the physical, cerebral, and spiritual? Honestly, I find it overwhelming and unachievable…I’m not capable of doing the things that Jesus calls us to in this passage. But I can take a step. I can be on a journey toward these virtues. Too often I think we evaluate the first step based on our perceptions of the achievability of the final outcome…what if we instead looked at the worthiness of the pursuit?
In this text I hear a call to love, and thats something we all know how to do. Perhaps not perfectly, perhaps not fully, but we all know something about love.
These verses help create a lens through which we understand the rest of scripture, the world, life. If we can count on this kind of love, love that encompasses all of our integrated being…spiritual, physical, cerebral, servant…all of who we are, then we can be the kind of people the gospel hopes to produce.
For those who are uncomfortable with being called a servant, first, good. We aren’t about being comfortable. But more importantly, lets just admit that we’re all serving something. What we serve is what we work for…family, kids, spouse, household, our status, careers, each other? God? the preacher says hopefully …we are servants like it or not. But I say like it. Like what you serve and be proud to be a servant of it. Life is too short not to.
This text reminds us that like Jesus’ ministry, the impetus for new and radical direction remains rooted in the foundational tenets of the faith traditions that have gone before him. Just as we are trail blazing with a new kind of worship that honors this text and Jesus call within it deeply, we don’t do it to attack or tear down that which went before us. Like Jesus himself and the reformers of the 1500s after him, it is instead an attempt to reclaim the truth at the heart of the gospel. To peal away some of the dogmatic man-made structures and reclaim a fullness of life and faith that renews and revives God’s children on this journey of discovery called believing.
Its like what if all artists stopped painting at the release of The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. An amazing painting no doubt, one of my favorites…but if all artist just decided that there would never be any painting as great as it, then we wouldn’t have the amazing work of Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell, or Pablo Picasso. There is always room for fresh expressions, creativity, and renewal of ancient practices. And they aren’t diminished by that, but are kept alive…revived…by these efforts!