There are two art forms that have occupied my mind over the past few years . . . land art and nature mandalas.
Land art, the practice of juxtaposing or changing naturally existing elements in an interesting or unexpected way, invites the viewer to be surprised and in awe of the connection between artist and nature. It asks the viewer to pause and challenges their perception. If done with extreme respect, land art can celebrate the gifts of the moment and the beauty of change as art interacts with external forces and changes over time. It is a public invitation to experience awe.
Nature mandalas also use and rearrange natural objects, but in this form, they are generally created within a circle motif symbolizing inclusion, equality, and connection. Private or public, nature mandalas have similar themes. Individual nature mandalas are often used as an intimate practice for meditation or prayer. Cooperative mandalas are a powerful way to reinforce the beauty of connection through many hands.
One outward practice I started over a year ago is to create, photograph, and share a nature mandala everyday on social media. It is a personal and public practice, created as a daily opportunity to pause, meditate, or pray.
But as beautiful as those daily mandalas might be, it is the hidden mandalas, the hidden land art, the work I create in undisclosed locations that are the most meaningful and life changing. Here in a secret place, it is not about the beauty, the grand scale, the awe, or the final art. It is about letting go and honoring the relationship between me, the place, and the Creator. No expectations. No reservations. No regrets.
The photo above is an example of one tiny hidden mandala I placed in the woods a couple weeks ago. The beautiful stump, with its perfectly placed snow and acorn hulls, has not been touched. It is exactly how I found it . . . with one small exception. To show my appreciation of the stump's beauty, acknowledge the Creator, and honor the relationship with both, I placed a tiny mandala made of beech twigs and lichen on the side of the stump. It is small and low out of respect. It is close to ask for connection. It is hidden to show sincerity. Hidden mandalas are not about grandeur. They are not about what anyone else thinks. They are about vulnerability, gratitude, relationship, joy.
I will visit the stump mandala with the tiny circle I placed beside and within. I will be open to surprise and whatever happens. I will build relationship and I know I won't be disappointed.
The practice of creating hidden mandalas is open to everyone. I invite you to go find a place, create a hello, and start or continue a relationship with nature, place, and the Creator.