Did you know that every year a wonderful event happens in Grand Rapids? It’s called Art Prize and for three weeks every nook and cranny of the city turns into a museum. Last fall, the mandala painter in me wandered the streets and marveled at all of the mystical ways that artists and sculptors interact with the circle. I must have swooned one time too many, because my rationalist architect son let out a long sigh of complaint.
“Mom,” he moaned. “You can’t call everything that’s round a mandala.”
Well yes, he’s probably right. The hubcaps on my Subaru aren’t really mandalas, nor are the Regulator clock that ticks off the minutes since Peter’s last infusion and the drain that the plumber is installing in our soon-to-be downstairs bathroom. I’ve just returned from a week with my daughter and grandchildren, reentry is hard, and the mystical presence of mandala seems far away.
But then I catch a glimpse of the sun reflecting off Peter’s feathery hair, Abbie turns her round cocker spaniel eyes my way, and I sense a stirring within my heart. The fact is, I’ve never adhered to a sharp delineation between what is a mandala and what is not. In classes I define a mandala as any drawing done in reference to a sacred circle. I realize that all of life is filled with sacred circles. Those kaleidoscopic hubcaps have the power to take Abbie and me for a walk in the park; the unrelenting tick of that Regulator clock is a reminder to be grateful for each minute Peter and I have together; and even the drain the plumber is so carefully spackling will soon take away the dirt of each day’s endeavors so that we can start afresh.
It occurs to me that mandala is in the eyes of the beholder. And maybe yes, you can call everything that’s round a mandala.