There have been quite a few "coincidences" or "divine appointments" (depending on your viewpoint) in my life lately, particularly in the area of my spiritual development. I've had some really interesting conversations with people of various backgrounds and experiences. I have people applauding my openness and desire to make my spiritual journey very personal, and I have people who are very concerned about all of the "weird" and "new agey" stuff that I'm into lately.
Regardless of your perspective on this, I've come to discover something that has become a very real and personal part of my relationship with God and my spiritual walk. The creative side of me really resonates with allowing myself to worship artistically and really appreciates the opportunity to love God with heart, mind, soul, and body.
As such, I've become very interested in the tradition of worship through mandalas. Psychiatry uses them to assist in the centering, calming, and compartmentalizing the thoughts and emotions. Nearly every religious tradition makes use of mandalas in one form or another to focus the mind, body, and spirit on God or on a central concept or idea. Like anything in the world, there is nothing sacred or secular in and of itself. It's the value or meaning that we assign to something. Everything in life can be used for "good or evil" but there is a lot of value to be taken from this ancient practice.
When I color mandalas, I'm able to concentrate on what I'm listening to or thinking about. I'm a visual and creative person. As such, if I don't have something to do with my hands and have the concepts right in front of me in color, my mind wanders and I can't pay attention.
So, I color them and jot down words and phrases I want to remember. And because I am artistic, I spend a lot of time on each one and often go back to it at later times. It's an act of focus, an act of worship, and an act of meditation and absorption. Here are my notes from church on Sunday, as well as my continued meditation through the next two days on the topic of worship.
The main points of the message are there. The message topic was "Now is the time!... to worship: The Songs of my Heart." And as I leafed through my book at the start of the message, this mandala caught my attention with it's "wings of praise." There were six of them, and we were about to walk through six different reasons or reactions to worship.
As the various reasons were listed, I wrote them clockwise around the mandala on the "wings," along with the scripture example and the response for each. I chose a color for each wing that represented the ideas to me, and I discovered something as a result that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The wings that were opposite one another were similar colors, and as I examined the concepts closer, I realized that those ideas that ended up opposite each other were also very similar, the type of concepts that usually go hand in hand.
As the message ended, the question was posed, "Which song are you singing right now?" We weave in and out of the different songs in our lives at different times of our lives, and we find worship in all things. To see a complete image of the God that we worship, we must allow ourselves to sing whatever song we need to at any given time, realizing that they are all woven together as a piece of who we are made to be.
And this all came out of the notes that I took, the pattern I chose, and the colors I used, repeatedly allowing myself to review these concepts and digest them in a different way each time I looked at and contributed to the artwork. There's glory (gold) in each form of worship and life (green) in all.
We become more beautiful through the process of allowing ourselves to be touched and changed as we worship God.