I find it fascinating that we often do or say things, on a what appears to be a whim, but turn out to reveal incredibly deep or interesting things about our lives that we didn't realize or didn't remember. Beliefs and experiences are often hidden and protected deep within.
This week I celebrate publishing my first book, a collection of drawings and essays that chronicle the creation of twelve, thought-provoking nature mandalas I created throughout the course of four season. The stories come from six different places in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and seven of the drawings in the book, more than half, come from one particular woods located near the southern edge of Rhode Island.
When I got my hands on the first copy of my book, I decided to take it to each of the places where I created what I now call the "Contemplative Sacred Circles." It was not a thought-out plan. I had no expectations. I just grabbed the book and took off. But interesting things happened in each place when I brought my stories back to where they had originated.
In the Rhode Island woods I mentioned, I carried the book as I walked the one mile path around and over the stream that runs through it. At one point I stopped to watch a hawk flying by, and was reminded of an experience I had twenty years ago at that exact same spot. The short version of this story is that on one of my first visits to this once Native American occupied woods, I found a beautiful nature mandala made of shells and stones left behind a large, standing stone. It was my very first experience with any type of mandala or nature circle. I didn't know who made it. I didn't know what it meant to the person who created it. But I was captivated and drew it. On my next visit there, it was gone. Not one of the whole or broken shells, stones, or feathers remained.
That was so, so long ago. I had completely forgotten about the experience. And I had completely forgotten that my journey with circles had begun years and years ago in the same place where I later created my own!
It is place. Places hold stories. I think that is why I intuitively took my book for a walk. In the woods I set my book behind the standing stone for a moment. I honored the place. I asked it to mysteriously hold and protect my own stories. And in return, this Rhode Island woods gently reminded me of where my journey with circles began.